Paul Mitchell

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On a shelf in our bathroom sits a number of hair care products, remnants of a business my mom recently closed.

About twelve months ago she decided to put the property (along with the adjacent building next to the salon) on the market; a month ago she signed a 5-year lease with an entrepreneur who wanted to open a salon. Not yet ready to retire, she is now renting a station from the lady and, having no more employees, found herself with excess inventory. Now my wife and daughter are set up with conditioners, shampoo and God only knows what else for the next five years.

I find myself in a somewhat similar situation. No, I don’t own a business that I’m looking to get out from under; but I do have excess cards sitting on a shelf in my office that I’m looking to get rid of. Some will be put up for trade; others have gone, or will go, on eBay (or COMC, should I go that route). As I posted about a month ago, I’ve decided to purge the collection of many singles and sets.

Mom purchased the salon from her former employer in 1981. By then I was in the middle of my first go-around with collecting cards. My first packs were purchased in 1976- probably no more than a couple of packs- on a visit to Buttrey Food & Drug. Of course, it was mom who bought them for me. The ’77 season came and more cards were purchased- much more than the previous year. Money was still pretty tight though, as my dad had become self-employed during the bi-centennial year and it wasn’t until 1978 that I was able to buy packs on a consistent basis.

Paul Mitchell’s baseball career ended the same year my mother became a business owner. He pitched his final game in the majors against Seattle on September 21, 1980 and was then released by Milwaukee on April 1, 1981. Paul found himself in the Yankees organization, where he appeared in seven games that season for Triple-A Columbus.

I don’t remember watching Paul Mitchell as a player- only remembering him from his baseball card- but I have often wondered what became of him after his playing career ended. And because he shares a name with the co-founder of John Paul Mitchell Systems (the hair-care giant), I have mom to thank for that, too.

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Appetite for Eighty-Seven

Destruction is Coming.

That’s what a billboard in the U.K. teased earlier this week, as did the domain gnr.fm. All of which got fans of Guns n Roses excited for dates with Steven Adler and Izzy Stradlin playing with the other original members of the band…or a new album…or a remastered disc of their hugely successful 1987 debut album, Appetite for Destruction.

Adding their former guitarist and drummer to some summer dates didn’t seem very likely. And a new album? Who does that these days? There’s no money in producing new music anymore. So that left a big-assed boxed set, which is the surprise announcement that was revealed today. Probably not what fans were hoping for, but hey, it will come replete with merchandise, multiple remastered discs, vinyl, and previously unreleased music.

All of this got me thinking about baseball cards (of course) and how cool it would be to see some sort of ‘boxed set’ coming from Topps, with cards of players who didn’t appear on cards in the particular boxed set year, merchandise, packs, etc.

I know, you’re probably thinking, “don’t encourage them,” and I get it. Things like this can be seen as a cash grab, but wouldn’t you like to see an ’84 Topps Kirby Puckett or Roger Clemens, with the original stock and fonts? How about one of those sweet ’87 Topps caps they did a couple years ago to go with some “lost cards” and photo variations featuring pictures from the Topps archives (little ‘s’- not the set)? Proofs, mockups for the set and cards based prototypes for a given year that didn’t get chosen are a few other things that would be fun.

I made this ‘mockup’ for one of the players who appeared with the Mariners in ’86 but didn’t get an ’87 Topps card.

Ross was a former first-round pick of the Dodgers (University of Miami, 9th overall in the 1980 draft) who never lived to such the expectations that go with such a high draft spot. Jones never had a card with the Mariners, but he did have three in 1988 sets (Fleer, Score, Topps) while with the Royals.

There’s No Such Thing as Useless Information

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After much debate, I finally broke down and subscribed to The Athletic last month. I probably would not have, if not for a discount offered when Jayson Stark announced he was joining the staff.

Stark wasn’t the reason I signed up, but his addition to the staff at The Atlantic added to an already great team, making my decision that much easier. I have enjoyed Jayson’s columns in Baseball America and on ESPN’s website over the years and am glad to, once again, be able to read The Useless Info Department- even if there’s no such thing as ‘useless information’ when it comes to the sport.

The player featured on today’s card might have been the subject of one of Stark’s “strange but true” nuggets- I just don’t recall ever reading about his “feats” until I begun to research Skip Jutze.

Jutze was a member of the original Mariners team and appeared in only 42 games that maiden season, his last in the majors. Forty-two games and 118 plate appearances don’t make for much of an opportunity to accumulate any kind of team records or hard to accomplish feats, but that didn’t stop Jutze.

In only the sixteenth game in team history, Skip found himself on the back end of a rare 6-4-3-2 triple play, as his counterpart on the Royals, catcher Darryl Porter, grounded to Mariners shortstop Craig Reynolds, whose toss to second baseman Jose Baez forced Amos Otis out at second; Baez then threw Porter out at first before first baseman Dan Meyer went home with a throw to get John Mayberry out at the plate.

Exactly one month later, in a game against the Oakland A’s, the Mariners back-up catcher was thrown out at home on the front end of a double steal, TWICE! (Dan Meyer was also thrown out at home in an attempted steal during that game). Jutze’s first failed attempt came in the top of the fourth; the second, coming in the top of the sixth. Both failed attempts ended an inning. Despite this poor base running, the team still won the game, 6-2.

The back of this Topps card noted that Skip hit the first Grand Slam in Mariners history, clubbing one just five days before he was caught stealing home twice against the A’s.

Useless Info when it comes to baseball?

Nope.

Not when you can use it as fodder for a baseball card blog.

Endangered Species

An interaction on Twitter recently with a new follower (and someone I had likewise just started following) led to a funny comment. “…And holy heck, a Mariners collector?? I’ve been waiting to find one of you… I don’t believe I’ve found one before.”

My response was first, laughter, and then telling Matthew that he made us sound like an endangered species- which I guess we are, to an extent. Griffey Junior had many collectors, as does Ichiro. The beginning of Arod’s career brought with it a lot of collectors, but he fell out of favor with, well, just about everyone. And I suppose that Randy Johnson and King Felix have had a few collectors. But team collectors? I don’t know if I can say I’ve come across many of those. So, yeah, I guess we are about as much of an endangered species as knuckleballers are in the game of baseball. [Note: R.A. Dickey is currently a free-agent who has never announced his retirement, and the only other knuckler in the majors that I’m aware of is Steven Wright of Boston- who’s currently serving a suspension for a domestic violence case]

“The scarcity of former knuckleballers to teach the pitch makes it harder to spread.” Tyler Kepner, February 22, 2016 New York Times

Speaking of endangered species… as far as I know, this is the only card you will find of R.A. Dickey in a Mariners uniform. It comes from the 2008 Cloverdale Meats stadium give away.

Topps Magazine James Paxton

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I’ve been on a bit of a custom card kick lately, mostly making cards for Mariners players who were not featured in any 2017 Topps products. But I came across something on my Facebook timeline tonight that cried out to be made into one of those wild Topps Magazine cards from the early 90s.

The Mariners are hosting 90s Night as they take on the Los Angeles Angels on May 5th, with the first 10,000 fans receiving the fanny pack shown in my custom card.

The fanny packs might be great for holding all those “sweet snap bracelets,” as the Mariners Twitter account reminded us (or even all those pogs, as one person tweeted), but I would prefer a giveaway of some 90s-style baseball cards any day of the week.

Food Issues

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I was listening to Mike and Mike on the drive to work a couple of years ago and heard an interview with Michael Kay, play-by-play broadcaster for the New York Yankees on the YES Network. The subject of the discussion- at least the part that I caught (I have a very short commute)- was food. Well, food issues of Kay’s, to be exact. The broadcaster has some quirky eating habits, I guess you could say. Kay claims to have never eaten a banana, any kind of fish, jelly, coffee, condiments, salad dressing or soup. Being a picky eater myself, I’ll reserve judgement. When it comes to cardboard, I can be pretty picky about what I collect- but I will say that I love food-issue cards, no matter how unattractive they may be.

A recent trade on the Trading Card Database with user Detfan6897 netted me a card from one of the most bland sets you will ever see: the 1993 Jimmy Dean Rookies set.

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Distributed in specially-marked packages of Jimmy Dean products, the Rookies set included nine of the top rookies from the 1993 season and came three to a pack. Like many sets from the early nineties, the Jimmy Dean Rookies set used marble in its design. While most of those others were tastefully done, the JDR cards used marble as the background, and it was an utter failure. To make matters worse, the nameplate also includes black marble (which against a normal background would have worked). Only three cards (Wayne Kirby, Mike Lansing and Tim Salmon) give even a hint of any life (thanks to the red in their uniforms or helmets); the rest are just drab. In fact, if someone were to hand me this Rich Amaral card without me knowing what it was, I swear I would think it was from one of Panini’s non-licensed products. That’s how bad these cards are.

But even a bland diet can be good for you

Golden Moments

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Twenty-five years ago today, the Mariners’ Chris Bosio threw the second no-hitter in club history. The start was just the fourth for Bosio after signing a four-year, $15.25 million contract with Seattle during the offseason and came just three days after his previous start.

After walking the first two batters of the game, the right-handed pitcher settled down and did not allow another base runner. Bosio struck out four batters and induced 16 of the outs by ground balls. Bosio threw just 97 pitches while facing only one batter over the minimum in the Mariners 7-0 win over Boston.

I received this card in the mail yesterday and the timing couldn’t have been more…timely. Bosio’s no-hitter was the last one thrown against Boston- until Oakland’s Sean Manaea threw his gem last night.

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Trouble Down the Pike for SGAs?

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I’ve been keeping an eye on the Mariners promotional dates, hoping to see when they will be participating in the National Baseball Card Day promo with their own in-stadium giveaway. We are planning a weekend trip to the Emerald City this summer and I was hoping to attend whichever game the cards are given away. The actual day that will be recognized in hobby shops is August 11, and since the Mariners are on the road that weekend, I’m guessing it will be August 4th. That’s my hope, anyway, as my birthday is August 5th and what better way to spend your birthday (or the day before) than at the ballpark?! To get baseball cards as a free giveaway would be icing on the (birthday) cake.

Some of my favorite card sets are from stadium giveaways, but I do have a concern for their future. While waiting for my coffee to reheat at work yesterday, I picked up the most recent copy of a marketing trade magazine from our break room table and came across an alarming article about a case going before the Ohio Supreme Court. This is another thing worth keeping an eye on, because the decision could greatly effect our hobby.

After an appeal was denied by the state Board of Tax Appeals, the Cincinnati Reds petitioned the state Supreme Court to hear their case against the Ohio Department of Taxation. State tax officials are claiming the team owes $88,000 in use taxes involving Reds promotional products given away at various home games between 2008-2010. The Reds contend that branded promotional products (bobbleheads, trading cards, etc) should be exempt from sales tax because the cost of the merchandise is built into ticket prices and that the items are being ‘resold’ to those attending their games. The state tax commissioner’s stance, however (and I agree with its position), includes the following points of contention: promotional products are distributed as free giveaways (emphasis, mine); tickets are the same price, whether there’s a stadium giveaway or not; not every person who attends the game will receive an item (due to limited supplies); if someone were to refuse a promotional item, no discount is given on the ticket price.

It will be interesting to see how the court rules. A ruling in favor of the Ohio tax commissioner’s findings might result in a change in how teams do their stadium giveaways. And that won’t be good news for the collector.

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2017 Topps National Baseball Card Day Mariners Stadium Giveaway

The Mariners 2017 NBCD stadium giveaway came on July 20, for a game against the New York Yankees. Shortly afterwards, I found, but lost out on, two team sets on eBay and had pretty much given up hope of purchasing one. Then, recently, another one popped up, which I was able to secure for a total of $29 shipped. Much better than the nearly $50 price quite a few months earlier.

  • SEA-1 Robinson Cano
  • SEA-2 Hisashi Iwakuma
  • SEA-3 Kyle Seager
  • SEA-4 Jean Segura
  • SEA-5 Nelson Cruz
  • SEA-6 Felix Hernandez
  • SEA-7 Mitch Haniger
  • SEA-8 Edwin Diaz
  • SEA-9 James Paxton
  • SEA-10 Edgar Martinez

Exit Strategy

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A couple of things that showed up on my Twitter feed this week has me thinking about exit strategies. Both were related to the hobby and so of course they were of interest to me. I bet you saw that Ichiro card and are thinking I’m going to ask what do the Mariners do with him once Ben Gamel comes off the DL. Well, I might work that in here, but we shall see.

The first discussion I came upon stemmed from a cryptic tweet from the Night Owl.

“Seems like a shame to publish anything more,” the wise one had tweeted.

Now, I say cryptic because my settings on Twitter are set so I don’t see any photos unless I click on the tweet. Come to find out it wasn’t cryptic at all, but a photo from his blogger account, showing he had hit post number 4000 (btw:congrats, Greg). Anyway, a brief conversation ensued about whether or not bloggers should have a known end for their blog. I’ve experienced this first hand, having ended a blog (one which had also undergone both a name change and a focal point) without deliberately setting out to do so; I wanted a different platform (which turned out to be Word Press) and decided to start fresh rather than try to export all the old posts. As far as this blog… I have no idea how long it will last. I could lose interest tomorrow and never write another post.

It was the second discussion, however, that got me thinking about an eventual exit from the hobby. To clarify, I don’t plan on ever stop collecting (although I have twice before: once I hit the teen-age years and then again from 2001-2009 when life just wouldn’t allow it) but there will be a time when I exit this life and then what? Neither my kids nor my wife have any interest in my card collection and once I’m gone I don’t want them to be burdened with having to sell a lot of my crap. Perhaps grandchildren who enjoy the game and the hobby will be in my future- or maybe not. I’ll probably let it be known that there are a few cards that hold the most meaning to me, so perhaps each of the kids and the wife will pick something to remember me by.

So I’m asking myself, what do I do with this stuff?

Thankfully, I have a lot less to worry about getting rid of than many of those in the card community. I’ve already sold some on Sportlots and have thought about selling on COMC as well. I’ve been involved in trading through Twitter, the blogs, and TCDB. But the sad truth is that much of my collection consists of most of the Topps sets from 1977-2017 – and those looking to complete those sets have already done so. A few months ago, I decided to end the Topps set run, as we are limited in both space and funds- and I’d rather allocate both to my Mariners collection. I also have a lot of vintage Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves from my days as a *Braves Topps team set collecor that I would like to move while there is still an interest in vintage stuff. It’s my belief that in the next 15-20 years there will be a precipitous drop in vintage prices. Who’s going to be buying them? The demographic for collectors is an aging one and I really have my doubts that the interest in any of it, let alone vintage, will be there in a couple of decades. Sure, I could leave the vintage stuff to my wife and kids to try to sell but who are they going to sell them to? Why not just sell them now and be done with it. Let someone else enjoy them.

And as far as Ichiro goes… there are a number of possibilities of what happens now that Ben Gamel is good to go: The team could DFA him; place him on the DL and then send him on a rehab assignment (good for about a month, total); keep him on roster and send Guillermo Heredia down; or, they could carry 5 outfielders on the active roster. Surely they had an exit strategy in place when they signed him.

Or, perhaps Ichiro will know it’s time.

Will I?

**My Mariners fandom started in ’78 and then I also became a Braves fan once we got cable in ’81. My love of the Braves overshadowed that for Seattle from about ’85 until the new regime traded away Andrelton- among other boneheaded moves- and became a complete dumpster fire.

You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling

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Most collectors will probably tell you that their favorite time of year on the card calendar is late January/ early February, when the new baseball card seasons kicks into gear with the release of Topps Series 1. Ask for a second most favorite time of year and perhaps the response will be, “after the final product is released.” Collectors have become jaded with the copious amount of product on the market, so I get it, but that doesn’t prevent me from looking forward to the calendar turning to June- and beyond.

Archives isn’t included in the early summer trio of Finest, Series 2 and Stadium Club, but it too is something I always look forward to with great anticipation. Last week, we were given the first bit of information regarding 2018 Archives (with an August street date)- and, thankfully, we will see fresh throwbacks this year as Topps revisits 1959, 1977 and 1981. I’m especially looking forward to the 1981 theme, as it was a childhood favorite.

While I can relate to collectors growing weary of products, I don’t get the exasperation many of them feel over something as insignificant as a font change. It happens with every retro set and 2018 Archives is no different.

My approach to this subject is to view it as I do when an artist covers another artist’s music or a producer remakes a movie. I don’t want an exact reproduction; artist liberty calls for a re-interpretation, not a carbon copy. And I view the brand manager as someone who has artist liberty in how they produce a set. Not popular among collectors, but I’m usually the contrarian.

I guess I can take comfort in knowing that multitudes of music fans around the world share my view. Afterall, the most-played song ever is “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling”- and many of those spins of the disc were of the dozens of artists who re-interpreted the Righteous Brothers classic.