Friday, October 23, 2009

1978 Topps is Complete!!!! Plus A Very LONG State of the Troll Adress...

I am still angry at myself for not posting anything at all on either blog on Thursday. I had a pretty good streak going, I’d posted every day for two weeks straight and have already set a personal best for posts in a month (yes, I am a nerd and I pay attention to nerdy things), but yesterday I just couldn’t find a minute to set down in front of the computer. Trust me though, this is gonna be a looooonnngg one, so brace yourselves-I do promise to keep this 99% baseball card related, though...The weather had been amazing for the last week and a half (between 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit) but Thursday, it crept back up into the 90’s. I also had a mid-term today (Thursday) and that meant that I should probably do a little studying. We also had a very lengthy roller derby meeting on Wednesday night and with my new responsibilities this year as director of fundraising and sponsorship; I had to give a presentation on my plans and goals for the season. I got home from the meeting around 9:00 or so and I raced to turn the TV on as soon as I got in the house. I was really hoping that the Dodgers would be staked to a healthy sized lead by then, but no such luck. Starter Vicente Padilla had just been lifted, but not before he spotted the Phils 6 runs, oh and it was only the 4th inning when I got home… My lovely wife was home as well and her and I don’t see each other very often at home, so this was cause to celebrate, but we couldn’t celebrate too much because I had to study, she had home work and we both wanted to watch the game. She has an amazing never say die attitude and she believed that the Dodgers could fend off the inevitable, so we both grabbed beverages and settled in and started rooting for a comeback. I don’t think that the wife likes the Dodgers too much; I know she isn’t a Manny fan, but she shares my hatred for the Phillies so we were both blue-blooded Dodgers fans for the evening. We watched the game more than we studied and we may have had a drink or two in the process. I think that she screamed at the TV more than I did. I don’t feel too comfortable second guessing Joe Torre, his track record as a skipper is pretty amazing, but Esther Gin N Juice didn’t mind questioning him… Some of her unanswered questions included why he wouldn’t leave Orlando Hudson in the game after his pinch-hit homerun, and the bigger question was why Thome didn’t pinch hit with the bases loaded. “Why did they go out and trade for Thome knowing he can’t play the field and can only pinch hit, why the hell would they not use him in the biggest game of the year with his best chance to drive in some runs???!!!” she screamed at the image of Joe Torre inside the TV screen. I can’t say I disagree with her either, hindsight is always 20/20 but looking back, Mr. Torre made than a few questionable decisions in that series and the results were not favorable. Let’s just say that the playoffs aren’t going the way I had planned. Honestly I enjoyed the regular season more this year, especially the last few weeks of the season leading up to the playoffs. That said I really don’t feel like writing about the playoffs either. The Phillies were pretty amazing this week, but that doesn’t mean I like them. I will say that seeing Davey Lopes celebrating the Dodgers being eliminated was a troubling image for me… As I write this post (in my notebook, to be transferred later to the blog) it is approaching 7 o’clock, the ALCS should be starting up soon, but I am trapped at work and won’t be able to see it, just the highlights later on. Such is the fate of the outdoors, night-time security guard. My boss (actually the owner) just stopped in. He reads this blog on occasion, so I will quickly state that he is one of the coolest men on the planet… He is a card collector as well, but his collection is on a completely different level than mine. He generally buys just one card a week, sometimes just one a month. He is extremely picky and particular on things like grading and such that really doesn’t matter to me. His latest acquisition, he purchased it earlier today actually, is one of the most iconic cards out there, a 1951 Bowman Willie Mays, graded by PSA as an 8. He is okay with an 8 for cards of the early 50s, but it is not up to his standards for the 60’s and beyond. His ’68 Nolan Ryan is just a 9.5, but his ’73 Mike Schmidt and every card from the 70’s and 80’s that he owns are all gem mint 10s. Like I said, our collections aren’t in the same world. Since he pays me my check, he knows I am sure that the price he paid for his ’51 Mays is roughly 8 months salary for me right now. Oh well, he earned his money, he can spend it… It is a beautiful card and it was an honor just to see it in person. It also blends in nicely with the other 8s in his collection, the ’54 Aaron, ’54 Bowman Ted Williams and ’53 Topps Satchel Paige. Combine those 4 cards and you know about what I make in two years. The nice thing is that he does understand the need to spend money on cards, even if dropping 7 bucks is a huge purchase for me. Anyway, even though I took a day off from blogging doesn’t mean that I took a break from collecting; it’s quite the opposite actually. I have been a set-building machine in the month of October. Today was another great mail day for your friend the Troll, I got another great package from Wicked Ortega (I owe you so much already dude!) that included some awesome Rays, but also my first Brian Roberts refractor and I do love refractors! I also got a huge package of Negro League cards from the 1950’s from Rob in New York, here is one as a teaser, but I will slowly post all of these over the off-season in reverse order and yes, he did include a couple of ’52 Topps cards! The card that I am going to show here though, came all by itself (along with a want list) from a reader in Jacksonville named Sally (which you all know is my awesome Kitty Cat’s name). This plain white envelope didn’t look like much compared to the other two giant manila envelopes, but it contained card #1 from the Troll’s Fab 14 Most Wanted List. The card came with a want list of about 80 different cards from the ’78 set and a short note that basically said: “I need this card for my set, too, but I need a lot of cards to finish off my set, so congratulates on finishing your ’78 set!”. Well, congrats indeed to the Troll! After 30 years and a ton of help from the blog-o-sphere, my 1978 Topps baseball set is done!!! Thanks so much Sally! I have about 40 of the cards that you need, but I am going to wait a week to ship them just in case I get any other cards you need in the mail, I can replace the one you sent me. So, there ya have it loyal readers, my ’78 set is finally complete! Also in the mail yesterday was another small package from another reader, this one had a few cards from my “upgrayde” list. I am now the proud owner of an uncreased Rod Carew card, can you tell the difference? If you haven’t guessed already, the card that Sally so graciously mailed me was in fact card #295 of Red Sox pitcher “Spaceman” Bill Lee! I hadn’t bindered up the last 3 cards that Wicked Ortega had shipped off to me, so the Carew, Bill Lee and those 3 cards all hit the binder at the same time to finish it off, complete set, cards 1-726 in the binder! I went in order, so the final card to go in was the Lou Whitaker rookie card. This has been an amazing ride for me, finishing this set, chatting with so many others who have chased it, but mainly the amazing support that I got from the blog-o-sphere was incredible! I still do have a couple of cards that I would like to “upgrayde” (yes, this is intended to be an Idiocracy reference), the list can be found here: There are just 7 cards left that I would like to find better copies of. I think I mentioned this before, but I used the team checklists and wrote on them, plus all of the team cards are pretty badly centered and the teams that I didn’t like, well their cards sometimes suffered. The Eckersley card on this list came to me in a trade and I didn’t even look at the back of the card. The front is perfect, sharp and centered, but the back has quite a bit of writing that would be inappropriate to post here. Apparently the cards original owner didn’t like the Eck too much, felt like he enjoyed felatio and wrote about it with a heavy dose of profanity and even drew a fallace on the back… I say whatever Eck wants to do in his private life is his business, but I can’t in good faith have that stuff written on the back of a card in this set…. With that, I want to thank Dan from SotCS, Sally, Frank, GreggG, Gene in Ft. Myers and especially Wicked Ortega, as well as anyone and everyone who have sent ‘78s my way over the past few months. THANK YOU ALL!!!! With that thank you stated, I am officially declaring a moratorium on all display of ’78 Topps on this blog, effective immediately! You have all been very patient watching me chase it, but now that it is done, all ’78 scans and discussion will be relegated solely to my new blog, If you have any interest in seeing more of that awesome set, please check it out, and if anyone would consider adding it to their blog rolls, I would very much appreciate it!!! So is anyone out there wondering what set(s) the Troll will be building now? I actually have a few in the works and I just completed two other sets this week, too. As I try and rebuild my library of Topps sets back to its former level of greatness and work towards my insane goal of having every set from ’51 on up till the present (and it will probably be around 2055, if I’m lucky…), I decided to start by chasing significant years as well as my favorite designs from each decade. Just so you know my fav designs are: 1959, 1965, 1976, 1983, 1993 and 2009… The 1978 set was very significant to me, but the year was not. The first set that I finished up this week probably isn’t worth the cardboard that it was printed on, but it is the year that my oldest son Zadeh was born and also the same year that I quit collecting. Actually 1990 was the last set I finished and it was the ninth consecutive childhood Topps set that I was able to finish, but those are long gone. Divorce. Anyway, this worthless 18-year-old cardboard was also the year of Topps 40th Anniversary, it is the 1991 set. This mission started with a pack of ‘91’s that Captain Canuck sent to me a few months ago. I liked the cards, the year is special to me and it just seemed possible. When Splatsy Kline moved to Washington, DC a few months back, she left her card collection to me and it included about 300 ‘91s and with that I was on a mission! I purchased the final three cards I needed for the set this week. Coincidentally, Eddie Murray was one of them. The final card in the set, card# 792 was also needed and the other card was a cool close-up of Cory Snyder, whose ghost haunts the blog-o-sphere. This may be the first and last time you will ever see pictures of Mike Greenwell and Cory Snyder on this blog, so enjoy! I was told that this trio of cards was going to set me back 50 cents, but after I bought a binder (used) and a box of pages (new), they ended up being a freebie throw in. The guy at the card shop asked what set I was putting in the binder and I told him 1991 Topps. Well, he fell over in laughter and told me the set was worth about half of what I just paid for the supplies. I really didn’t care, the set meant something to me and there are some really cards in there that I am happy to own. It does have Chipper Jones and Pudge Rodriguez’ rookie cards, a bunch of Hall of Famers and a cool 40th Ann logo in the upper corner. Laugh all you want, I like this set! The other set that I finished off this week doesn’t have a binder to go in just yet, but it will need fewer pages as it is only a 440 card set. This one was pretty easy to finish, too. I found 2 wax boxes of this at a card shop a few months back and was able to finish the set off of those with cards to trade leftover. I wish Topps could remember how to collate that well again. I am sick of buying a blaster and getting triples of Hideki Matsui in it. This set is from the birth year of my youngest son Darvey (I only have 2) and it is the 1996 Topps set. These cards are high gloss, have some good quality photography and honestly don’t look too different from the 2009 set. There are nice action shots and a lot of the guys in this set are still kicking around the big leagues. I like the 4-person dark and spooky prospects cards. They had a legitimate future “star” on nearly every card including a few guys battling in the playoffs 13 years later. There were “Future Stars” cards, including a couple of future teammates, also in the playoffs. There is a card of the recently fired Quality Control coach of the Tampa Bay Rays, Todd Greene. The back of this card is pretty awesome, I like the full color, full stats and photo on the back, but Greene was a pretty impressive power hitter in the minors. He popped 40 homers in 1995 and the card states that he was the first player to hit 40 in the minor leagues since Danny Tartabull hit 43 in 1985. The last card I will show is of a sliding slugger named Ken Griffey Jr. A broken wrist limited Grif’s playing time in 1995 (imagine Griffey on the DL!) and he hit just 17 homers that year after topping 40 the previous two years-as of 1996 Grif had just 189 homers! I will probably buy the ’96 set its own binder next week, but it is done as well. That gives me 5 total complete sets (all finished since I started blogging) from 4 different decades-’78.’87,’91,’96 and 2009. So, the set that I am working on at present is the 1979 Topps set. This year is significant because someone that I love very much was born this year, but I can’t reveal who it is for risk of injury. I have to say that this set lacks a lot of the charm that the ’78 set possessed. The photography did get a whole lot better in some cases. I really like the tight close-up on Ron Pruitt, the shot of Bert Blyleven on the mound and Reds pitcher Manny Sarmiento getting ready to do something… The hair got smaller (with a few exceptions) and the facial hair lessened as well in most cases. I really don’t like the black and white 3-panel rookie cards at all. Color film has been a part of the arsenal of Topps’ photographers since day one, why go back in time for rookie cards? They still have a few goofy cards, like a DH making a fake fielding pose with a catcher’s mitt and Mark Lee doing his best impression of Milton from Office Space. I like the green, grassy color on the back of the card and I do really prefer the trivia questions to the Play Ball game on the ‘78s. The crop of rookies is a whole lot weaker, too. In 1978 you had Hall of Famer rookie cards, plus you had rookies of some of the best Detroit Tigers of all time, with Lou Whitaker, Alan Trammell, Lance Parrish and Jack Morris in that set. It also included should be HOFer Dale Murphy. The 1979 set has just one HOF rookie, the greatest fielding shortstop of all time, but after that, it falls off dramatically to Lonnie Smith, Danny Darwin and Pedro Guerrero. The main issue I have with this set is the centering. It’s freaking horrible! I have about 85% of the set complete and ¾ of those cards are off centered and off-centered pretty badly. I found an unopened (or so I was told) vending box of these and that is how I started the set. I lucked out and pulled an Ozzie Smith rookie with razor sharp corners, but the centering is barely 80/20. I don’t need a lot of cards to finish this one and I will post a list soon. I think I have all of the HOFers covered and I do have a copy of Bill Lee already. This post is nearly done, I promise! The one other set that I plan to work on is from the year that I was born, 1974. I like this set for a few reasons. One, the cards seem to be centered much better and there are two great rookie cards in it of the two of the best hitters of the 1970’s, Dave Parker and HOFer Dave Winfield. I will post more on this one in the future. For now, enjoy the moratorium on ’78 Topps, look forward to more trading posts, check out my want lists as I post them, keep me in mind for any Rays cards you may pull and please check out my new blog! I still have a ton of amazing cards to post that I have accumulated over the past month. Autographs, relics, refractors, amazing stuff, so stay tuned. Trade packs went out today for Drew, Joe and Brian, many more to come on Monday! Including all the card pics, I think this may be my longest post ever, holy cow!!! By the by, I will not be around to post again until Sunday. We have a 5K Walkathon for breast cancer awareness early Saturday morning and I am proud to say that I raised $660.00 for it. On Saturday night, we are having a blowout party to celebrate-that reminds me, I need to finish this up cuz I have to pick up the keg! Okay back to baseball... That was an amazing game last night, at least what I saw of it, I am rooting for the Angels with all I’ve got! Go Angels! Beat the Yankees! Troll out.


  1. NIce brief post, as always chock full of information. Have fun with the weekend!

  2. My goodness. I should know better than to try to read one of your posts while at work. I'll have to pick it up tomorrow!

  3. Love those long posts...keep em coming!