January’s Set Highlight – 2008 Topps Finest Baseball Autographs

Each month, I will post about one of the sets that I have in my collection. January’s set is the 2008 Topps Finest autograph set. Topps Finest was a set that I would put together each year. But as the years went on I started to limit the collection to just the rookie autographs issued. 2008 was one of those years. I put together the base, refractor, blue refractor (#/399), green refractor (#/199) and the Rip Girls set. I have since sold the base and refractor, but I kept the other three.

When looking back at the set, you are hoping that a few of the rookies panned out. But sometimes it just doesn’t happen. For the 2008 set, it the later with the biggest name ended up being Clay Buchholtz.

A run down of the players:

  • Brandon Jones – Braves – 51 games over 3 years
  • Rich Thompson – Angels – 104 innings pitched in 82 games over 6 years
  • Chin-Lung Hu – Dodgers – 118 games over 5 years
  • Chris Seddon – Mariners – pitched in 6 games over 3 years
  • Steve Pearce – Pirates – has a 13 year career (played from 2007 to 2019), 254 lifetime average with 91 home runs.
  • Lance Broadway – White Sox – pitched in 27 games over 3 years and 4 teams.
  • Nyjer Morgan – Pirates – played for 4 teams over 7 years. 282 lifetime average with 12 home runs. He did seal 120 bases.
  • Jonathan Meloan – Dodgers – 13 games over 3 years and 3 teams.
  • Josh Anderson – Astros – 179 games over 3 years and 4 teams.
  • Clay Buchholz – Redsox – had a 13 year career, 10 with Boston. Went 90-69 with a 3.98 era. His best year was 2013 going 12-1 with a 1.74 era while winning the World Series. Posted double digit wins for only 3 years.
  • Joe Koshansky – Rockies – 35 games in 2 years.
  • Clint Sammons – Braves – 31 games over 3 years.
  • Daric Barton – A’s – 551 games over 8 years for Oakland. 2010 was his best season where he played in 129 and lead the league with 110 walks. In 2008, he played 140 games.
  • Ross Detwiler – Nationals – Ross looks like the only player still playing. He played 13 seasons (missed 2017) for 9 different teams. Played in 277 games and has a 4.56 lifetime era.
  • Sam Fuid – Cubs – 8 years, 227 lifetime average, 12 home runs, 67 stolen bases.
  • Justin Ruggiano – Tampa – 9 years, 8 teams, 256 lifetime average.

As you can see, Buchholz was a World Series Champion and a few other players has decent careers, with Detwiler still playing. But 9 of the 16 played less then a full season of games. But I guess you could expect that from a set of rookies.

Besides the rookies, Topps also issue autographs of the Rip Girls. And while I was just looking them up on eBay, I noticed that the Rip Master also had an autograph. I never realized that otherwise I would of had a copy of it. I may have to pick it up to complete the set. Below are the Rip Girls

Anyone else collect this set? Anyone else still have it?

My Monthly Collection Adds: Tiki, Obi, Curtis, Toney, Set Needs and some Vintage

Instead of posting daily my collection adds, I will be posting them all once a month. Since I am a little behind on posting them, this week I will be covering both December and January purchases that have not already been covered in separate post.

Tiki Barber printing plate: Plate #20 in the collection is this 2019 Impeccable Football yellow plate. It is great that they still feature Tiki in new products as it helps keep the PC alive.

Obi Toppin adds: hard to believe, but they are still issuing ’20-21 rookies with the latest Mosaic product. Below are the base rookie, the photo variation rookie and the Orange Reactive Prizm.

Obi Toppin Autograph add: Origins

1969-70 Topps Basketball add: While I was at my LCS during their holiday sale, I picked up a few vintage Knicks – Willis Reed, Dick Barnett and Cassie Russell. The ‘69-70 set was Topps return to basketball after a 4 years hiatus. So with cards not being produced for a few years, there are quite a few “Rookies” in this set. The Reed is considered his rookie card. And did you notice how they had the players wear their jerseys backwards so you can see their name! A little strange looking, but it is unique. These 3 get added to the other two I already have, Oscar Robinson (included below) and Walt Frazier RC (already posted that a while back). My son has been wanting us to put together this set for a while now, so having 5 of the 99 cards set is a nice start. I will be adding to it slowly for the next few years.

Kadarius Toney Autograph add: 2021 Panini Origins. I actually got this card back in November, but I have been waiting for Toney to have a good game (or just play) before I posted it. Since that really hasn’t happened, I am posting it now. While Toney looks to have all the talent to be successful, he needs to be able to stay on the field and they need to know how to use him on offense. Both which didn’t happen during the 2021 season. Not sure Coach Judge knows how to use him!

Curtis Martin Rookie: not sure if I ever posted this one. Picked up this Finest rookie at the last card show for $3. While I am not a Jets or Patriot fan, I could not pass up this Hall of Famer’s rookie card. It still has the protective coating, so the question is – to peel or not to peel?

Tiki Barber Relic add: 2021 Prestige Gridiron Heritage. I don’t purchase relic cards to often unless I can get them for a cheap price. The below was a $2 add. I have seen numerous versions of this card available.

Tiki Barber base cards: These are a few of the base cards that I picked up. The Legends Chrome is the mini #/100. My PC doesn’t focus on base cards that much, so I only pick up a few here or there if they are cheap enough.

Topps Living Set add: I have been collecting only the Yankee cards from this set since it went live. And will probably do so until they end this run. Taillon is the latest card (1,623 print run) and marks card #24 in the collection.

Optic Set Needs: It is taking me a long time to complete the 2020 Football set. This week I was able to add the CeeDee Lamb rookie. I am down to two cards to complete the set: Justin Jefferson and CEH (CEH is for a replacement for the one I currently have which was a slight surface scratch). As to the 2020-21 basketball set, I purchased one around the holidays but many of the rookies has surface issues so replacements are needed. I did get back 1/3 of the price so I could replace the cards (I have no issue complaining about subpar card condition when it is not disclosed in the listing and requesting refunds). There was about 11 vets (it included refractors which I don’t include in base sets and I let the seller know that it should not have been done) and 17 rookies (some slight but other with bad surface flaws), including the Ball that had water spot like marks. I was able to replace the Ball with a clean copy and also the Wiseman (this one has a small dimple mark while the original had bad surface issues). Still have 12 replacements to go. This year, the surface quality of Optic was not good, both for Football and Basketball.

Starting Lineup Collection – Baseball

Last week I posted the Football collection. There wasn’t too much to the collection as I was primarily collecting baseball back in the late ‘80’s. Today’s post focuses on my baseball collection. I purchased all of these off the shelf from either Toys R Us or K*B Toys. I remember getting my drivers license around that time and taking drives to the toy stores on the weekends searching for the hot players.

1988 (23 figures): This was the first year of Starting Lineup so I was buying anyone I could find. From hot rookies (Barry Bonds, Will Clark, Wally Joyner) to seasoned veterans (Mattingly, Boggs, Gwynn, Puckett, Schmidt, Brett) to my favorite team the Yankees (Winfield, Randolph). And I didn’t dare open the package. Even back then we knew if they were to keep any value, they would need to be in the original packaging. The figures were very simple and they used the same 5 or 6 poses throughout the run. You can see from the below, they were posed exactly the same. Only difference was the uniform and face (not too realistic looking). I arranged them by pose below so you can see what I am referring to.

1989 – 2nd year (10 figures): As you can see, I didn’t buy that many of the 2nd year run. I stuck with the local team (Mattingly, Leiter, Jefferies, Cone) and the Bash Brothers (Canseco and McGwire). I was also able to find my 1st dual package (Mattingly and Boggs). And they produced Baseball Classics. Had to pick up the Yankees Ruth/Gehrig and Mantle/DiMaggio.

1994 – 1999 – (8 figures): By the time we get to 1994, I have already stopped collecting for a few years. Plus, I had no more room in the closet to store any more figures (they take up way too much room). But when a few of the top players were available, I picked them up. Below is a 1998 and 1999 Derek Jeter and a 19998 dual Rodriguez and Griffey. Also added a Chipper Jones 12 inch figure.

I have been storing the figures for the past 30+ years and they have been through several moves. They have been searched / looked through by my son every so often. The package on the majority of them have stayed in great shape. A few have some bending/curving on the cardboard and on 1 or 2 the plastic package seemed to have turned yellow. But they all still have their cards. Not bad for 30+ years.

How many Starting Lineups do you have in your collection? Are they still in the original package? Are you passing them down to the next generation?

Starting Lineup Collection – Football

If you were collecting in the late ‘80s through the 90’s, then at some point you most likely purchased a Starting Lineup action figure. Back then, instead of going to Target or Walmart and searching for sports cards, we were going to Toys R Us and Kaybee Toys search the Starting Lineup section for your local team or the hottest players.

This will be a 2 part post. Today’s post will be the football collection. (next week, I will cover the baseball collection). Back during this time period, baseball was my sport of choice. The Yankees dynasty was a fixture in the World Series, while the NY Football Giants were struggling. So from the football side of things, I wasn’t purchasing as much. Below are all current pictures of my football figures (just reorganize and re-boxed them to make more room in my hobby closet). Most of them have stayed in good shape with the packaging intact, including the card.

1996 Football                                                                                                           Random players. Not sure why I bought these.  We all had purchases like this. These may have been the first football figures I can across so I bought them.  
1997 Football                                          Highlighted by John Elway ($7.99), Brett Favre, Jerome Bettis, Montana/Rice dual and Phillippi Sparks (signed at a Giants game a few years ago).
1998 Football
My 2nd Jerry Rice ($7.99), Antonio Freeman, Terry Allen and Curtis Martin from the extended series.
1998 Classic Doubles
We have the 1983 draft class with Elway/Marino, defensive greats Butkus/Seau and Giants greats Tittle/Huff (how could I not pass up a $3 Giants purchase!).
1998 Legends and 1997 Heismen Collection 
My 2nd Butkus, my 2nd Tittle, Deacon Jones and Bo Jackson.
1997 and 1998 - 12 Inch Football Figures
Brew Bledsoe (the man before Brady), my 3rd John Elway, my 4th Jerry Rice and Terrell Davis. While some of the boxes show some wear, none of these were ever opened.

Did you collect Starting Lineup football? Still have them?

Looking Back at 2021: Cali’s Card Corner

I started doing this blog almost a full year ago, on January 6th. Over the course of the year, I posted 255 posts. Those 255 post were viewed 2,128 times by 970 visitors. Out of all those views, only 15 comments were left (would be nice to have more comments). The best month was August with 319 views, 196 visitors and 7 comments.

The wildest stat from the year was the blog was viewed across 21 countries. Some of them may have only had 1 or 2 views, but 21 counties is a lot.

Below are some of the screenshots from the site with the stats.

Xmas Day Adds

This year, the kids got me some sports stuff for Christmas. My daughter got me a Giants mini helmet signed by Bill Parcells with Super Bowl inscriptions. This was from Coach’s Collectables. Parcells was an autograph that I wanted to add to the collection for a long time.

And my son got me a Mitchell & Ness hardwood classic Patrick Ewing Jersey. And the best part, he did use his own money to buy my gift. And I got to wear it on Christmas while watching the Knicks win.

Trade Day: Lamar Jackson Optic Holo Rookie

A few months ago, I posted some cards from my Jason Motte PC. Nathan from @midwestsportscardz reached out to me about my collection as he was also a Super Collector of Motte (we are probably the only two). He wanted to trade for some of the cards in my PC, which I was up for to help him expand his collection. Since I no longer actively collected Motte, it seems like a waste for the cards to just be kept hidden in a box/binder when they should be enjoyed by someone who will really appreciate them like I did.

It took a few months, but we were finally able to make a trade. I sent Nathan 5 Motte printing plates (check out his Instagram account to see them as one helped him finish a set of 4) in exchange for this Lamar Jackson Optic Holo rookie. While I don’t collect Jackson, I do collect Optic and I really wanted to help Nathan out with his collection.

By the way, the last time I traded was back in 2015 when I was building my Topps Chrome Football set.

Nathan also threw in this Bradshaw relic, along with a few other Giants cards, knowing I am a big fan on the team.

This will probably be the 1st of many trades with Nathan as he looks to obtain some of the other cards in my PC.

Vintage Add: Charlie Conerly

I have been wanting to add some early Conerly cards to my collection. And when I saw this 1952 Bowman Small at my LCS, I couldn’t pass it up. I would like to add his rookie card at some point in the future.

Some of Conerly’s accomplishments: played for the Giants from 1948 to 1961, 1956 NFL Championship, 1959 NFL MVP, 19,488 passing yards, 173 TDs, Giants retired #42 and he is in the Giants Ring of Honor. At one point, he was the oldest QB in the NFL. And he was the Marlboro Man after he retired from the Giants.

Connelly is in the Giants Ring of Honor. Below is his bust from the Giants Legacy Club Hall of Champions in MetLife Stadium .

Check out this episode of Giants Chronicle to learn more about Chucking Charlie:


Vintage Add: 1952 Bowman Frank Gifford Rookie

This was on my want list for a very long time. It is a 1952 Bowman card picturing Gifford from his days at the University of Southern California. And as the back of the card says “College to Pro Football Picture Cards”. Gifford was the 11th pick in the 1952 draft, 1st by the Giants.

He played his entire 12 years with the Giants as halfback, flanker (wide receiver) and defensive back. Earning Pro Bowl selections at all three positions. During his 12 seasons, Gifford racked up 3,609 rushing yards with 34 TDs, 5,434 receiving yards with 43 TDs, and threw for 823 yards and 14 TDs with 6 interceptions (tied for most non-quarterback with Walter Payton). Gifford briefly retired from football during 1961 after he was knocked out by Philly’s Chuck Bednarik, suffering a severe head injury. He would return in 1962, winning the NFL Comeback Player of the Year. He would retire after the 1964 season.

Gifford entered the Hall of Fame and the Giants Ring of Honor in 1977. The Giants also retired his number 16 in 2000. Gifford was also successful after His playing days as he became the play-by-play announcer for Monday Night Football for 27 years.

This is a must add for any Giants collect!

The Other Giants Running Back: Brandon Jacobs Rookie Cards

If you have been following by blog for a while, you know that my main PC is Tiki Barber. But us Giants fans were lucky enough to go from Tiki right to Brandon Jacobs. While they had different running styles (Tiki was Lightning and Jacobs was Thunder /Hammer/Earth), they were two of the best to ever do it in a Giants uniform. Jacobs was the 10th running back taken in the 2005 draft (4th round). The most notable backs taken before Jacobs were Ronnie Brown and Frank Gore. The other 7 really didn’t pan out (Cedric Benson, Cadillac Williams, JJ Arrington to name a few).

We enjoyed watching Jacobs play for 8 season in New York (and 1 in San Francisco that we all can forget). And was a big part of both Super Bowl runs. He is rank 4th all-time in rushing yards (5,087) and 1st in rushing touchdowns (60) in Giants history. Saquon only has 19 rushing touchdowns so far so that record is not going to be broken any time soon. He also rushed over 1,000 yards twice and over 800 yards twice (Giants had a 3 headed RB attack during these years). He will always be considered an all-time Giant great.

Below are two of his rookie cards that I have in my collection. The 1st on is the 2005 Playoff Contenders autograph. The 2nd is the 2005 Topps Finest Refractor autograph #/399. I may have one or two others rookie autographs in the collection that I will post at a later date.

A few years ago, Jacobs was signing before a Giants game. He was great in person. Before signing the photo, he wanted to make sure the Sharpie would work was he tested it on the table cloth! Also took the time to take photos with everyone (see below). I just wish the photo I got signed fit the frame (had to put black behind it to fill it).

Highlights: If you haven’t seen him run, look up his highlights. He ran with power and speed. It was a rare combination that doesn’t usually last for 8 years.

Vintage Add: 1981 Topps Football Set – Joe Montana Rookie

A few months back, I was able to buy a group of Topps Football sets from the 1980’s from my LCS for a cheap price as some of the sets were incomplete. As part of this purchase, there was a 1981 set that was only missing the Joe Montana rookie card. Last weekend I was finally able to complete the set when I picked up a raw copy at a local show. While the card isn’t perfect, it was affordable. I had no desire to spend a few hundred on a graded or well centered version. As long as the card was clean, nice color, no creases and had sharp corners, I could overlook the centering issue. And for those that know the 1981 set, you know centering was a big issue on many of these cards.

Here are some other rookie cards from that set (all my sets are in binders so the pictures may not be the greatest):

Autograph #153: 2020 Panini Encased Sapphire #/25 Tiki Barber

This is the 3rd autograph in the run that I have. I now have the base (#/50), sapphire (#/25), and emerald (#/5) versions. That only leaves 2 versions that I need to go after: gold (#/10) and diamond (#/1). Not sure I will ever obtain the diamond version but I hope the gold will turn up. It did take a year for the sapphire to pop up. And I am in no rush.

Sunday’s Sets: 2005 Donruss Studio’s Studio Stars Platinum Insert Set #/50

Studio Stars is one of first insert sets that I put together when I started collecting again. I wanted to do a set that wasn’t autographs, not too large and not too scarce. So being 50 cards and numbered to 50, this seemed perfect. And there could only ever be 50 of the sets available. Plus they were on acetate, so the are visually appealing. There were three different versions of this insert set available : base, Gold #/500, and Platinum #/50.

The set contained some of the top players in 2005; Ichiro, Vladimir Guerrero, Alex Rodriguez, Tejada, Schilling, Clemens, Pettitte, Pedro Martinez, Smoltz, Jeter, Griffey Jr., and Pujols to name a few. Below are pictures of all 50 cards. And yes, I keep them all in a binder so they can be looked at.

Traveling Pro Football Hall of Fame Exhibit: South Carolina

This past year, while vacationing in Myrtle Beach South Carolina, my son treated me to a visit of the NFL Hall of Fame exhibit. I always enjoy seeing the pre-NFL items and how the game has changed over the years. Below is a gallery of the pictures I have taken. The exit contained an early trophy and uniforms from 1900, along with uniforms from historic plays/players throughout the year (including Michael Strahan’s sack record uniform). Enjoy!

Giants Chrome “Wind” Rookie: Derrick Ward

When I was going through my “Team” box to see if there were any cards I have forgotten about, I came across this beauty in the Jets section: 2004 Bowman Chrome Red #/210 rookie. This one is supposed to be an uncirculated card, but it doesn’t have the case that those came in. And I don’t recall where I got this card.

If you read my blog, you know I am not a Jets fan. I am posting this card because Ward was the “Wind” in the Giants Super Bowl XLII championship year. For those that forgot, Earth (Jacobs), Wind (Ward) and Fire (Bradshaw) is what the Giants’ rushing attach was called in 2007 and 2008. He only played in 8 games during 2007 (didn’t play in the SB), but he had a big year in 2008 rushing for 1,025 yards.

2008 was Ward’s last year in New York. He would only go on to play a few more years. Tampa in 2009 and Houston in 2010 and 2011. But he never came close to the success he has in 2008. But he will always be remembered for being a part of that rushing attack.

Project 70 Add: Babe Ruth

You know they couldn’t go without doing a Ruth card. With the newest Joshua Vides’ Babe Ruth, I am up to five cards; Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Thurman Munson, Mickey Mantle and the Yogi Berra. Will there ever be a DiMaggio card, or is he still under Upper Deck? He isn’t part of the Living Set either. That is a big name in Yankees’ history to be missing.

Strahan’s Number 92 Retired Today

During today’s game, the New York Football Giants will be retiring Michael Strahan’s number 92 at halftime. And it is fitting that the game is against the division rival Philadelphia Eagles. A team Strahan played the most games against (28) and had the most sacks against with 21.5 (12.5 sacks of McNabb, including twice in the 2000 NFC divisional playoff).

Below are the few Strahan items that I have in my collection. First up is a 2004 Playoff Prime Signature which is the only autograph of his I own. Next up is the season ticket holder pins that were sent out this year before the season started. Then we have the 2004 McFarlane Division Rivals dual figure package (and look whom it is against, McNabb). A 2014 rally towel from Strahan’s ring of honor induction game. And lastly, his Super Chrome Wild Card rookie card.

2004 Steelers Rookie – Not Who You Think

After posting a few days of 2004’s top rookie class, today’s post is finally that famous Pittsburgh Steelers star: Fast Willie Parker (not Big Ben). Willie Parker was an undrafted free agent and he played for the Steelers from 2004 to 2009. He is a 2x Pro Bowler and 2x Super Bowl Champion. During Parker’s 2nd season in 2005, Fast Willie rushed for 1,202 yards. And he would go down in the NFL record book for his 75 yard touchdown run in Super Bowl XL for the longest rushing play in Super Bowl history. Then during the 2006 season, he set Pittsburgh’s single-game rushing record with 233 yards (he was taken out in the 3rd quarter), while also breaking Pittsburgh’s single-season touchdown record with 16 that year. While he played for a short period of time, he made an impact in Steelers history.

Do you remember Fast Willie Parker?

2004 Topps Finest Larry Fitzgerald

In keeping with the 2004 theme of the last few post, today I bring you the sure fire HOFer Larry Fitzgerald. Larry was the 3rd overall pick in the 2004 draft and he played 17 season, all with the team that drafted him – the Arizona Cardinals. He has 1,432 catches (2nd all-time) for 17,492 yards (2nd) and 121 touchdowns (39th), and was an 11x Pro Bowler. Not only was he great on the field, but also off. He was the 2016 Walter Payton NFL Man of theYear, established the Larry Fitzgerald First Down Fund and the Carol Fitzgerald Memorial Fund, and has numerous recognitions for his charity work.

Not sure if we will see another draft like the 2004 on anytime soon. With Eli Manning, Philip Rivers, Larry Fitzgerald and Ben Roethlisberger being the big names, there was also punter Andy Lee (still active), OT Jason Petersburg (still active), Sean Taylor, DeAngelo Hall, Jonathan Vilma, Vince Wilfork, Steven Jackson, Chris Snee, just to name a few.

2004 Topps Phillip Rivers

After posting several Eli Manning rookies this week, I am switching it up to another QB from the 2004 class. Below is a Philip Rivers Bowman rookie. Unlike the Eli’s, this is new to the collection. And only cost $3 shipped. Not too bad for a potential HOFer. Maybe at the show this weekend I will be able to pick up a few other rookies from that class cheap to add to the collection.