My Year In Hobbies

Hi!

Yup, STILL alive. Have been free enough to start writing again for a little while now, but as I’ve had a great number of things to talk about, it was tough to decide where to jump in. Decision made: I’ll talk about as many of them as time permits in one go, in chronological order.

A screenshot from the Playstation 3 video game Skyrim in which a dark brown horse (center) is named "Dong's Horse" by the game engine, since the rogue character I was using (bottom) was named "Dong".

Despite some questionable character naming on my part (I did not know it would automatically name my horse “Dong’s Horse”, but I ended up making up a song about him and everything…oh, and naming my main fantasy baseball team “Dong’s Horse” this year, too…we won, by the way!), and a whole lot of allegorical racism in the dialogue that seemed to come a little too easy to the developers, The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim for Playstation 3 was $5 that quite literally saved my life over the winter. I ended up getting the flu in early January (flu shot, which I still strongly recommend, did not exactly work for a bunch of people last year), and the secondary respiratory issues I had after the flu damn near killed me. Had this game not given me something to occupy myself with as thoroughly as it did, I may not have rested enough, and we might not be here to read about my dirty horse name. So, warts and all, thank you, Bethesda, for helping to keep me alive this year.

Mego's World's Greatest Super-Heroes and Star Trek figures sit on a desk. From left to right, Mr. Fantastic, Mr. Spock, Iron Man and The Lizard.

In late February, I unpacked a few of my old Mego figures to keep the Mr. Spock I got at Brimfield company on my desk. By December, thanks to a trade, a wedding present, and the return of Mego in July, after 3 and a half decades out of the toy business, this picture looked very different. More on that later.

I had a good day at the Digital Press store in March. Pictured are Atari 7800 Space Duel, Bally Astrocade Clowns/Brickyard and Dog Patch, XBox Blood Wake and Panzer Dragoon Orta, and XBox 360 Beautiful Katamari and Project Sylpheed.

Then, this happened.

For reasons I’m still trying to process, a near-complete (just need #95 Gene Tunney) 1951 Topps Ringside set, complete with a wrapper, was sent to me by one of my frequent benefactors. I still have not gone through my half-full Ringside set that I was working on before this happened, to see if I want to merge the sets (upgrading some, etc.) or whether I just want to keep the gift together. Whatever I end up deciding, I will likely have a bunch of Ringsides for sale or trade in 2019.

A near-complete Batman joined the crew in late March, once I dug him out and put him together from two partials.

…then, a complete Superman joined them the very next day, after a similar process!

After years of owning this oddball signed piece, I finally worked out that the signature on the baseball was not, in fact, Dave Kingman, but rather, Jimmy Key. I’d call that an upgrade.

I made it to the Hartford Yard Goats‘ opening night just in time to get this picture of New England Fisher Cats 3rd baseman Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. standing on 1st base after a walk in the first inning. I got to see an impressive legacy infield of Cavan Biggio, Lourdes Gurriel, Jr., Bo Bichette and Vlad Jr. that night, and while that didn’t bode well for the Yard Goats, it was nice to see their ballpark, Dunkin’ Donuts Park, for the first time of what I hope will be many visits.

That trade I mentioned, when I posted my early Mego picture, yielded a replacement for my long-lost Falcon figure and, for the first time in my life, I got a Mego Aquaman figure!

My local comic shop (full disclosure: I host their website) had an amazing thing happening on Free Comic Book Day this year, in addition to the free comic books (not pictured).

I may have gotten a little out of hand.

May Brimfield was its usual self…

Cool, weird stuff a-plenty…

…some of which I regret not buying.

That can’t be said for everything I saw there, though, wow, this one pins the Weird-Shit-O-Meter, don’t it?

Sometimes, I left the house to go to places that weren’t stores or flea markets, and that was good.

Though, it should be said, I did still collect things while I was out.

I’m not a big car guy, but I parked next to this car that night, and a picture of it probably needs to be shared somewhere, so here.

I snuck in a yard sale or two at my house over the course of the year. Ron Guidry’s niece bought a bunch of his cards from me at this one, which was pretty cool.

I’ll be a little short on Gator doubles for a while.

(Photo Credit: Licky Oats)

A decent amount of my stuff found new and much better homes this year. My friend Licky Oats bought Bettie and King Kong Bundy from me after seeing them in pics of the garage sale, and this happened.

Another cursed object from my local flea market.

(Sorry. I had to.)

Had a few nice DC Direct adds this year, too! My better half got me my old pal Etrigan for my birthday.

The scene I happened upon at the Toys R Us closing. (Yeah, I got one.)

KRUSHER!

Ideal Toys did such great stuff. This is a replacement of an old childhood friend, by way of my friend Max (Thanks again, Max!).

July Brimfield. I don’t know, either.

Every time I post a picture of a pile of vintage lunchboxes like this, it can be anywhere from 5 minutes to a few years afterward, I get deluged with people asking me how much they are, and if I can pick them up for them.

I don’t do much in the way of fashion in my old age (I’ve kinda traded in fashion for comfort), but this piece by Mia Vesper, who was set up in Brimfield in July, is amazing.

Not my area or my era of vintage toy, but what a cool looking piece.

…and another cursed object. Actually pretty cool composition, feel bad about not getting the seller’s info now.

HA HA HA HA HA! HA HA HA HA PEEK-A-BOO!

Again, I do get out sometimes. Janet Jackson for free-ish because of the class action settlement against LiveNation? DONE. This was a great show.

While waiting for the new Megos to show up, I remembered that I had these fellas in a Sterilite somewhere in my basement, so…

…the posse expanded!

Had a really nice RPG/non-sport card/CCG find in August. At some point soon, I’ll get into more detail on the CCG stuff, but in the meantime, if anyone’s looking for ’90s Star Wars, Star Trek or X-Files CCG stuff (I’m starting to amass more mass-produced Magic: The Gathering stuff than I’m comfortable with, as well), talk to me before it gets sent to COMC.

First sighting of the end cap!

First full end cap!

My picks from the first batch…

…and they join the crew!

I got this awesome specimen of humanity, too (he’s a Marvel Select, just an amazing figure).

I met Oil Can Boyd in August! Nice guy, even better dresser!

I started moving some of my old cassettes on Discogs a few months ago (Sorry, the Type O’s gone now…), and that’s not been half bad. Check out my stuff if you still like/buy/collect cassettes, there’s some real gems in there.

Chekov snuck in a few weeks after the first new Mego purchases.

Another well-loved lunchbox, spotted my local market. The Angels would come up a few times this year.

Rough, but still super cool.

Added my oldest comic to the collection, with a classic Mac Raboy cover where Captain Marvel Jr. prepares to beat the crap out of some Nazis. Back cover’s toast on this, but it’s still so cool to have.

Had a nice day in September at the market, netted me a bunch of TCMA stuff and a couple of cheap update/traded/etc. sets that I needed.

Then, I headed back to Brimfield for the last trip of the year.

In looking through my pictures from this year, I realized that I photographed this beauty of a chair multiple times. I wonder if the dealer still has it (I’ll find out in May, I suppose), and what they’re asking for it.

I wish this game hadn’t been on the pricey side (I think they wanted $60-ish for it). Note the cameo from the Evel Knievel bike underneath it.

There was a dope-ass vintage Halloween vendor at the September show.

I normally don’t go in too deep for sp00p, as the kids call it these days, but this was quality merchandise.

This was from them, too. Tons of black cats and pumpkins.

Yeah, let’s!

One of the coolest, best buys I’ve seen at any of the markets here, and I’m still kinda kicking myself for not getting in on it. Sadly, even though the sign told me not to be, I was a dummy.

Brimfield, home of antique furniture that’ll bring a tear to your eye…

No, seriously.

There are also giant Playmobil pirate men there.

There were people who saw this set and got a different kind of tear in their eye, but I kinda loved it. It has that “bedroom of a teenaged girl who did a lot of psychedelics” look to it, and I spent time with those types in my misspent youth.

Another “Why didn’t I buy this?” piece. I don’t know why it spoke to me kinda loudly, but it did.

Another dealer in September had a ton of ’40s-ish magazines, lots of The Ring and such.

But also some dope-ass nerd shit!

Rough shape, but these covers are absolutely to die for.

I mean, COME ON.

There were Aurora models…

Micronauts like you wouldn’t believe…

Extremely questionable electronics…

Great shirts…

…and, as the season wrapped, the 1970s came home to roost.

Bela Lugosi did, as well.

So did Tootie.

I’m still on the lookout for one of these rascals, though, as the card on this one was all sorts of messed up.

Norm, on the other hand, showed up, as did a coffin for Bela (the first of 2).

As did Mott The Hoople (a local flea market find).

I call this picture “True Detective Season 3”.

The Gorn and Frankenstein’s Monster arrive! If you haven’t been keeping count, we’ve gone from 4 to 19 so far.

And then I got married! (Photo Credit: MacRamos Photography)

But, like clockwork (or at least a slightly malfunctioning clock), I was back at the flea market the morning after the wedding. I did not buy this beast, but figured y’all would want to see it, just the same.

A wild Samantha appears!

It’s a reissue, but it was still one of my grails. Got it as a wedding present, thanks, Rich.

Pidey-Man! Another wedding gift, this great condition figure came from Etsy. I’d been missing him since about 1981.

Here he is with the rest of the crew, along with Bela in his newer, larger coffin (which will come into play later).

We picked up this light for the wedding, which, because of the lighting in the room, was a dismal failure, but man, does it make my bedroom look pretty.

Greg Brady and Alice arrive! (I told you the coffin’d get more use. They look so happy together.)

Jo from The Facts of Life shows up to keep Tootie company! (Yes, this habit got out of hand in a hurry.)

On our last visit of the season, my local flea market was brimming with good will!

Also: Bowman Chrome! (This box is a keeper.)

So’s this card, which was in the box, despite not being Chrome.

Honeymoon time! Lest I bombard you with general honeymoon pics, as much as some of you would love them, I will do my best to keep them collecting hobby-centric, particularly as there are already 498,310 pics in this post!

Armchair Books, Edinburgh, Scotland. One of the best used book stores on Earth.

Traveled a few thousand miles, thought “I’d maybe like to get a cool edition of some Poe” before I got there (despite him being an American writer; just occurred to me before I left that I didn’t have much in the way of hard copy Poe), and there it was on the shelf. I paid more than nine shillings, but not that much more.

Look at this beauty! The first computing I ever did in school was on a PET. This was in the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, which is one of the best museums ever. Again, I could bombard you with hundreds of pics just from this museum, as we spent close to 6 hours there over 2 days, but I’ll do my best to keep it collecting hobby-centric.

These platforms were not in the National Museum of Scotland (I saw them at a thrift shop around the corner), but goddamn it, they should’ve been. If these shoes could talk, they’d have some stories, let me tell you what.

Gerry Rafferty featured heavily in my mind on this trip, as part of it involved taking the train he’d take back and forth from Edinburgh to London during the period of time post-Stealers Wheel when he was fighting with his record label, and just because he’s an extraordinary, underrated musician, so his case at Rip It Up: The Story of Scottish Pop was an essential stop. (I wrote a little more about Gerry and one of his better known songs here. I am also reasonably sure that there are other Gerry Rafferty fans from the card hobby reading this.)

Alex Harvey is another pretty incredible, underrated Scottish musician (who I’m still just getting started on the music of), and while I wish more of the exhibit featured him, I was still glad to see him here.

Do not attempt to adjust your television sets. You are seeing Strawberry Switchblade featured in a museum!

Many old friends here…

…and here, near the exit.

An Apple 1 computer, if you’ve never seen one.

Here’s the monitor.

The Wall of Telephones!

The only One Laptop Per Child laptop I’ve ever seen in person (at left). Granted, that’s a good thing in a way, because these were supposed to be deployed to places where, logically, I wouldn’t have seen them yet, but still, something else to see one in person.

What, did you think I was going to a foreign country and not hit the flea market? Found a Fields of the Nephilim EP I needed here, too. (More on them in a bit.)

Yes, despite there being very little of a visible card collecting hobby in the UK, I did buy packs of trading cards there! Match Attax is still very much a going concern, so I grabbed a pack of those, and I also got a pack of Lego Incredible Inventions cards, as well. Fun stuff, and if there’s demand, I can scan some up in a separate post.

Onto London! This was a really nice, if pricier than I like my funny books, piece at Gosh Comics.

Orbital Comics are another solid store in central London, and they’ve got a great sense of humor.

I present Exhibit B on that, in the form of the section of their back issues devoted to Captain America one-shot issues.

Some of my London comics haul. First issue of Son of Satan’s Marvel Spotlight run, Captain Britain #3, some Marvel Two-In-Ones, and, while unspectacular by comparison, I was missing the first issue of Mike Allred’s Silver Surfer run, so I grabbed it.

So, we went to London (and grudgingly left Edinburgh, which is one of the most amazing places ever) for a specific reason, which was kind of the centerpiece of the trip, as planned anyway.

How’d it work out?

(Photo Credit: Alexander Milas. If you look at the picture, dead center, the person directly behind the pains in the ass with their arms up appears to be me.)

Well, the good news was that both bands were brilliant.

The bad news, not to go to another town and talk trash on the people there or nothin’, but the bad news was that the crowd was…I’ll be extremely polite and describe them as “uncooperative on all fronts”, and try to leave it at that. I’ve been going to concerts for 35 years, in multiple countries, all kinds of music (including hundreds of shows where mosh pits were the norm), all kinds of people, and while they’re lauded as loyal, devoted, intense fans, the London Fields of the Nephilim crowd was…I dunno…let’s just go with what I said above, but also use that “intense” word twice, then drop it. The band were good enough to largely overcome whatever we experienced down there in general admission.

If you feel like watching the show we saw…have at.

Back to the flea market pictures! I spotted this beauty (and even played it a bit) at Old Spitalfields Antiques Market.

This was the first time I’d seen the Lego Voltron, at Westfield mall, which we stayed near, and which we spent entirely too much time in, even though we were, in fact, in London, and probably should’ve been anywhere other than a mall, particularly one quite as Black Mirror as Westfield. In our defense, we’d done the overwhelming majority of the touristy, sightseeing kinda stuff when we were there in 2017. Anyway, they did a nice job on this.

The Space: 1999 dolls, along with the Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, Mork, etc. toys, were in a place called Monkey’s Emporium in the Stables Market in Camden Town. Prices were…about what you’d expect from a place with high tourist foot traffic and probably excruciating rent, but they had some neat pieces. Camden Market in general was a lot of fun, stuff to look through everywhere, felt endless but in the good way, even though I’ve heard that they lost a lot over the course of several fires in the last decade.

Last time I was in London, I forgot to check the dice at The Orcs Nest Game Shop. I would not make this mistake twice.

Back home, I added the new Marvel Legends Thing figure (left) to my rock shelf.

I also started adding Mego Wave 3, as the Cowardly Lion showed up!

We got a PS4 as a wedding present, and I’ve been enjoying this awesome, awesome game. If you’re playing, let me know, I’d love to add you to a game, even if we start from scratch.

The Screaming Werewolf arrives!

This finally happened. When the $5.00 Blu-Rays turn into the 3 for $5 Blu-Rays and Point Break is there…well, it’s time to see Point Break. (My other 2 from that grab were Better Off Dead and Sid and Nancy.)

Serena and Endora from Bewitched join the party! Two of the best new Megos to date!

Told you there’d be more Angels! Finally got some Hasbro Angels (Sabrina, pictured here, and a pretty rough Kelly, who you’ll see later) after 40 years.

And just like that, Kelly, Jeannie, Major Nelson, and “Mirror, Mirror” Kirk and Spock join the party, too! This year just got completely out of hand on this front, and I love it. Mego collecting has turned into “make the coolest, weirdest crowd scene ever” for me, and I’m down.

I got a few CDs when I was in NJ. If you put $1-3 CDs in front of me, and it’s stuff I want to fill holes in my catalog, I can’t be responsible for my actions.

I did not, however, buy the Kenny Rogers picture disc. (The Mighty Lemon Drops record behind it, we won’t talk about. The Wiseblood record underneath it, I already had.) It is with a friend, though, and I have visitation rights!

GIANT-SIZE MAN THING

(Anyone got a spare issue 2 for me?)

It’s the blue whale in the Museum of Natural History! The lighting is weird in here, I think, because of the holiday party they were having in the whale room that day. (I barely got in to take this pic.) Thanks to my friend Sola for bringing me to see the whale, and other natural history-like things!

Figures Toy Company Catwoman arrives, as my (to date) last Mego or Mego-like figure of 2018!

So, that’s it for now. (I know, not a lot to digest or anything, right?) This is what happens when you’re working on house renovations, planning a wedding and a honeymoon, and dealing with multiple illnesses (in addition to the flu and flu-related fun, I got another one of my famous concussions the night before my wedding…the wedding was in October, and I’m only just now getting to where I’m about 90% back from it): you take a bunch of pictures of cool things to write about, and then don’t get around to writing about them. We won’t even get into the stuff I’ve scanned, or need to scan. So, my choice was to either plan to write 20 posts that I, of course, wouldn’t write, or to bomb you all out with one very long post that will melt your brains. Predictably, I chose the latter!

I will be back very soon with an update on how I did on 2018 collecting goals that I had (it was busy enough over the last year that I didn’t even write the ’17 year in review post properly, or go into my ’18 collecting goals), and what I’m looking to do (spoiler alert: put a bunch of my stuff that I’m not enjoying enough into good homes) in 2019.

Thanks for being patient with me while I’ve been off living life, and I look forward to your comments!

Hey, y’all, a card trade!

 Bo recently got himself into the pre-1978 card collecting game, finally, with a pretty big vintage purchase, so I was finally able to trade him some old stuff, and he did the same for me.

Got some ’67-’69 cards, so we’ll go in order. I cannot get over Don Sutton ever being this young. He looks like he’s 12 here.

Damn, I love this McCovey.

Onto ’68s, where I’m across the 400 mark on the set now (of course, the last 191 cards have something like 30 Hall of Famers, including Mantle and the Ryan and Bench rookies, so I probably won’t finish that soon). Never have a problem with getting a Hank Aaron card I need, though. (The other guys don’t suck, neither.) Keep ’em coming!

Billy Williams, with some artistic embellishment.

I’ve been buying cards for 38 years, and have owned hundreds of thousands of cards over those years. This is, amazingly, my first ever and only playing-era flagship Eddie Mathews card.

Pops cards seem to come to me late in set-building, too, so this is welcome.

Elston Howard looks thrilled both to be a member of the Red Sox and taking this picture.

Bill White looks cool, like he usually does.

This card of Pete is almost in condition as bad as my Munson rookie. Fine with it. Upgrading intentionally would be money I don’t wanna spend on this guy anymore.

Ken Boyer and Superman both go to the same barber.

I also crossed the 400 mark on ’69! (I never would’ve guessed that I’d ever be anywhere near that.)

I have at least 2 Joe Niekro on the Cubs cards now, and it’s still not something I’m used to yet. Looks like some alternate universe shit.

World Series cards, lookin’ awesome.

GREAT card of Odom. He’s got that “Don’t even try it” look in his eyes.

Here’s Rico…

…and Sutton, still looking way too young, to close it out. I went through his cards after I scanned these, and figured out that the back of the ’71 card is when Don looks like he went through puberty.

(Borrowed from The Trading Card Database because I didn’t wanna get it out of my album.)

Suddenly, he looks like a grown-up. It’s like he saw some shit during the ’69 off-season, and he’s a man now.

Thanks, Bo, for trade #5939203582010382!

Still Here, Hella Busy, Here’s Some Stuff

So yeah, between health stuff (the flu this year was a nightmare and I was sick to some degree or another for 3 months, but I am better now), wedding planning, home renovation and other things, it’s again been quiet here of late. So, let’s wake things up a little with a few pictures.

Holy crap, new Megos! I traded a spare that I had, and got these two well-loved but still pretty solid looking guys in exchange! I haven’t had a Falcon figure since 1986 or so, and I’d never owned a Mego Aquaman before I got him (one of only a few from the World’s Greatest Super-Heroes line that I hadn’t owned; I’ve still never owned an Invisible Girl, Penguin, or the regular, non-Fist Fighting Riddler…). They’ve both taken up residency on my desk, along with some others from my Mego loose figure collection.

(From back to front, though some will need no introduction: Superman, Batman, Mr. Fantastic, Mr. Spock, Iron Man, Falcon, Aquaman, Lizard, and a 7-Eleven Metamorpho cup in front of Lizard, also a relatively recent add.)

Our local flea market opened for the season recently, too, which was a blast, because it seems like every year on opening day, all of the vendors have a real “I’m so glad we made it through another winter” vibe about them, like a very real appreciation that we’re all still here together, and even if “here” kinda sucks sometimes, we’re at least at the flea market.

I only ended up getting one picture in the field on opening day, taken of an APF TV fun Pong clone. I don’t see a bunch of ’em in the wild these days. I passed, because I’ve got a Super Pong, an Ultra Pong, and Atari 2600 Video Olympics, and for me, that’s Pong enough. Still good to see ’em surviving, sorta.

Here’s what I did pick up on the comic book end of things. These were all very affordable, even the Avengers #181 (which I’d forgotten was the first appearance of Scott Lang, who becomes Ant-Man not long after that). From left to right: Avengers #181, New Teen Titans Vol. 1 #7 and 8, Infinity Inc. #1, Moon Knight #24 and 26, Marvel Premiere #51 (Black Panther), Captain Canuck First Summer Special (always happy to find some original Comely goods in the wild), and Fantastic Four #232 (the beginning of John Byrne’s big FF run).

Don’t worry, people who came here by way of cards. I got some cards, too!

I had a few of these (Palmer, Slaton, and Doyle Alexander are doubles, and all are available for trade), but generally, if I see Hostess cards, I buy Hostess cards. Very happy to snag a Carew (his cards in any set ever are tough for me, for some reason) and, of course, SIXTO!

So, what’ve y’all been up to?

2018 Topps is here! Yay, I think.

Let’s jump right in. Here is the first card of the 2018 season, for me, anyway…

Thumbs up to you too, Matt, though I’m not sure if you’re giving me the thumbs up because you did something in this game, because you got traded away from the Barves, because you figure there’s a good chance you’re gonna get paid a ton of money to sit on your ass, or because you just wanted a cool baseball card. Either way, this may be my favorite Matt Kemp card of all time (though it didn’t have a ton of competition).

Here are the card backs, for those curious…

They got me used to partial stats fairly quickly, in part because my vision’s taken a serious hit in the past year or so, but also because it sorta reminds me of Donruss. The fronts do, too. The designs are different, but something about the use of color and the full-bleed on the front reminds me of late-period pre-Panini Donruss, figure ’03-’05.

I am with all of you who think there was a better use of that dead space to the right of the social media and the factoids, but I don’t know if a QR code would’ve worked at that size, and there’d probably be some debate as to what site it’d go to, or what function it’d serve. Stats at mlb.com or Baseball Reference? If it gets you a Bunt card of the physical one, do they just give you white base, or is there some element of chance there? Speaking of, I don’t think the flagship design lends itself to the “10 parallels of the same base card” dynamic on Bunt, so we’ll probably see another season of divergent physical and digital flagship cards, bah. But yeah, if they’re taking away full stats, dead space is a bad idea. Even, from a graphic design perspective, if they’d widened the facts, and centered the social media box, I think it would have been better, but this reeks of “we were going to put something in that space, probably a QR code, and had to nuke it at the last minute”. Moving onto some more cards…

Springer was a lot of fun to watch in the Series. Not as much fun for me as Alex Bregman (who I think is gonna be an unbelievable player), but still a lot of fun.

Mookie looks like he’s simultaneously pulling a Carlton Fisk and dancing here. Mookie don’t care, though, because he won his arbitration case!

Well, I won’t have to worry about these being super-overpriced when it comes time to finish this set. Frazier’s got an RC logo on his card when he was first in Bowman in, what, 1994?

I won’t have to worry about these, either. Would you believe I got these back-to-back in my hanger box?

Here’s some ’18 base of other players I collect (I mostly limit my current players to my fantasy team, hence the Mookie above, but I have been buying Greinke’s cards forever, it seems). I really love the Realmuto card. It’ll probably be his last Topps Marlins card, but it’s a gem.

The box promised 2 Jeter highlights cards, and now that his name is mud, they gave me three! I’ll hang onto them, though. He may have a plan in Miami that doesn’t just make him look like a big jerk forever (one of the sports stories of the next decade’s gonna be seeing how that all plays out), and I have some good memories of watching him play. Plus, I finally live in a part of the country where people will part with Jeter cards without asking for vital organs.

Anyone want these?

The Arenado sorta-gold’s 755/2018, if that makes a difference. Really disappointed that they didn’t go with actual card stock for the ’83s, like they did with the ’87s last year. And yeah, I’m basically good on any of these insert sets, not building them. Pretty flat inserts this year, and for this, I am RELIEVED.

I should also mention, though they won’t be pictured here, that I got 14, count ’em, 14 horizontal base cards in a row in this pack. The reason they won’t be pictured is that they were 14 pretty uninspiring horizontal base cards, of players I don’t have much of a vested interest in. Still, that’s what they went with in this pack, after the inserts were done. Weird collation.

How do I feel overall about the pack and this year’s flagship? It’s a mixed bag, but a step up from ’16 and ’17 on the base design. I’ll be building it (damn it), so send me your base doubles. The inserts are pretty lukewarm, especially the ’83s, so I’m gonna pass on those and trade whatever I get that isn’t a player I collect. Still, I don’t feel like I actually wasted my time and money buying these, like I have for 3 out of the past 4 seasons (’15 was awesome, but it was the only truly awesome flagship set of the past 5 years).

So, here’s my want list for Series 1 base:

2018 Topps (Have 63/350): 2-3, 5-6, 8, 10-13, 15, 17-21, 23-51, 53-74, 76-78, 81-82, 84-86, 88-93, 96-104, 106-107, 109-116, 119-121, 123-126, 128-137, 139, 141-143, 145, 148-154, 156-160, 162-167, 170-178, 180-182, 184-192, 194-197, 199-202, 204-211, 213-220, 222-224, 226-233, 235-240, 243-247, 249-251, 253-254, 256-258, 260-262, 264-266, 268, 271-274, 276-285, 288-289, 291-304, 306-310, 312-316, 318-322, 324-325, 327-329, 331-333, 336, 338-346, 348-350

How’d y’all do?

Roy Halladay 1977-2017

Roy Halladay was one of the best pitchers I’ve ever seen.

For perspective, here’s an incomplete list of other Hall of Fame, future Hall of Fame, and just plain great pitchers that I have specific recollections of having seen pitch live during their Major League careers, either in person or on television:

Tom Seaver
Steve Carlton
Phil Niekro
Don Sutton
Nolan Ryan
Dennis Eckersley
Rich Gossage
Bert Blyleven
Tom Glavine
Greg Maddux
Randy Johnson
Pedro Martinez
John Smoltz
Roger Clemens
Mariano Rivera
Curt Schilling
Clayton Kershaw
Trevor Hoffman
Justin Verlander
Andy Pettitte
Jack Morris
Mike Mussina
CC Sabathia
Tommy John
Ron Guidry
David Cone
Max Scherzer
Kevin Brown
Orel Hershiser
Bartolo Colon
Dwight Gooden
David Wells
Zack Greinke
Jon Lester
Johan Santana
David Price
Adam Wainwright
Cliff Lee
Chris Carpenter
Felix Hernandez
Dan Quisenberry
Fernando Valenzuela
Tim Hudson
Jimmy Key
Tim Lincecum
Kenny Rogers
Roy Oswalt
Madison Bumgarner
Corey Kluber
Mike Scott
Jamie Moyer
Chris Sale
Cole Hamels
Mark Buehrle
Kenley Jansen
Stephen Strasburg
Kerry Wood
Hideo Nomo
Orlando Hernandez
Mark Prior
Dontrelle Willis
Teddy Higuera
Jose Fernandez

Roy Halladay was better than most of those guys.

Ryan, Maddux, Johnson, Pedro, Clemens, Rivera…he was as good as any of them, and consistently better than just about any active pitcher I’ve seen. His work ethic and preparation were unmatched (and the stuff of legend, to the point where I think he scared some of his contemporaries), and it was such a pleasure to watch him work, even if he was in the process of dismantling the team you typically rooted for.

While I never got to see him pitch in person, he’s the only pitcher I’ve ever seen throw a no-hitter in its entirety (only on television, but still). I’ve caught no-hitters in the middle, I’ve caught them at the end, I heard the first 4 innings of David Wells’ perfect game on the radio and thought “Man, he’s dealing today”, then got out of the car and found out about it later, but I saw every single pitch of Halladay’s postseason no-hitter, and save for a bullshit call that led to Jay Bruce’s walk (YEAH, I SAID IT, I DON’T CARE IF PEOPLE ARE TRYING TO BE CLASSY RIGHT NOW, JOHN HIRSCHBECK BLEW THAT CALL), it was glorious.

It is also worth mentioning that, for a guy who came of age in New York in the mid-1980s, Roy Halladay was so good that I was more than OK with people calling him “Doc”. In fact, when I woke up to messages about Roy’s passing a few hours ago, all I saw initially was “Doc”, and I feared the worst in those first few seconds for Dwight Gooden, before I realized that the person talking about “Doc” was Canadian, and then the wheels started turning in that direction. For the record, losing Doc Halladay this week is every bit as sad for me as things would’ve been had we lost Doc Gooden this week.

Since this is a site about collecting things, and I do collect baseball cards of Roy Halladay, I should probably talk some about that, too. I actually don’t have a huge number of his cards. Now, it should be said that I’m a set-builder more than a player collector, and I do have a good number of his cards in sets I’ve completed or am trying to complete (I’m pretty sure that I have all of his base Topps cards, including his rookie card, and I have the card at the top of this post, which was probably my favorite of his), but even with that in mind, and though I obviously liked him a bunch, Roy Halladay’s section in Box 1 of my star card boxes isn’t overflowing with cards the way Vladimir Guerrero’s and Wade Boggs’ sections are (a few dozen for Roy, compared to a couple hundred Vlads and about 100 Boggs cards). Looking through the rest of that box, the number of Roy’s cards I have would be about even with Felix Hernandez, which makes a little sense, as they were contemporaries as starting pitchers who I both liked. (I probably end up with more cards of position players than pitchers, even if I really love a lot of pitchers. Not sure why that is.) One of them’s still playing, though, so that’s not an entirely even comparison. It could just be that people are not usually willing to let go of their Roy Halladay cards, and I’d accept that as reasonable.

I also don’t have Roy’s autograph (and while this is about the most trivial part of this tragedy, to the point where I feel a little embarrassed even mentioning it, that just got a good deal harder to get), and I don’t have any game-used relic cards of his, either. I had one years ago, and I promptly gave it to a friend who is not a big card collector, but is one of the biggest Roy Halladay fans I know, and, in fact, is the person I mentioned above, who messaged me to tell me he’d passed. I know he already enjoyed it, but I hope he and his family continue to, even if it’s undoubtedly gonna be bittersweet moving forward.

Other people, much closer to the subject matter than I, are more qualified to speak about what kind of a guy he was, how he helped people, that sort of thing. I know some of the details, but not a lot. If you have stories about Roy, particularly stories about him doing good things that you’d like to share here, please, by all means, do so.

This is still…I dunno, I woke up in the middle of the night to this news, and, though I realize that it’s not uncommon to feel this way, it just doesn’t seem real somehow. It’s real, it pretty much always is, but it doesn’t feel that way. Roy Halladay was younger than me, seemed invincible within his chosen profession, and while he had a high risk hobby that’s claimed the lives of a few ballplayers in my lifetime, it’s still too early and too hard to process right now.

Rest in peace, Roy. I didn’t know you personally, but you still brought some joy into my life, and you’ll be missed.

I’ll wrap this up with a few more of my favorites of his.