Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Your Sports Bucket List

Lately I've written and twittered about my quest to go skydiving. So far, the weather has cancelled every attempt I've made (maybe that should tell me something).

My skydiving adventure isn't a bucket list item or a mid-life crisis (I'm working on a new truck for that one), but it got me thinking about my own sports bucket list.

What are some sporting events to see before "kicking the bucket?"
- Attending Game 1 and Game 7 of a Baseball World Series
- Going to an NCAA Basketball Final Four weekend
- See some Cape Cod League Baseball
- Attend a Florida vs. Georgia NCAA football game
- Get ring-side seats for a Heavy Weight Championship fight

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sports Cards Hobby New Frontier - Mobile Apps

How do I find the closest public restroom?
There's a mobile phone application to find the answer.

What's the latest movie review?
There's a mobile app for that too.

What's the latest Upper Deck product review?
There isn't an app for that answer. You need to go home, start your PC, go on the web and search your favorite blogs to see if they've reviewed it yet.

Where are the sports cards mobile applications?
How would you like to use your iPhone, iPod Touch, or Blackberry to:
- View product release details
- Read message boards
- Check out the blogs
- Review card values
- Make card trades
- Chat with hobby leaders and friends?

I think this is the next step in our sports card and memorabilia hobby. Yes, you can do all of those now without a smart phone application if your have a mobile browser on the phone. However a mobile app notifies you when there is a new message board thread, trade proposed to you, new blog post and new product review all within a single application. You can view it all without having to navigate your mobile web browser.

I started thinking about this after reading an announcement by Blogging the Boys. They created an app for readers of their blog to see FanPosts, pictures, stories, etc. This particular application is $1.99 from the iPhone app store. Most mobile apps are free or cost less than $5. Check out the screen caps from their app.

Imagine if you're at a card show or store and see the latest retro product by Topps, but can't remember what people were saying on your favorite message board. You could launch the app, and search within it to see what hobby leaders are saying and what price you can expect to pay.

Who Will be First?
Right now, it looks like the Freedom Card Board could be the first to launch a mobile application. FCB confirmed with me via Twitter they are targeting a launch for their app by the end of 2009! Tracy Hackler and Chris Olds at Beckett Media said a mobile app was an idea being discussed, but a target date had not been confirmed. Tracy suggested they could have one in 2010. Don at the Sports Card Forum said they do not yet have a mobile phone application project started.

I think this is the next logical step for hobby. Perhaps we'll hear some product announcements and demos at the National Sports Collectors Convention in Baltimore next summer.

Would you pay $1.99 for an application like this?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Card Store Closed on Sundays

I'm trying to understand this. My local card store is open from 12pm - 6pm Mondays through Fridays. On Saturday, it's open from 1pm - 6pm and on Sunday's it's closed. Who are they open for?

Who are these hours for?
Most of us work Monday through Friday and struggle to get home before 6:00pm each night. Collectors in school often times have work or athletics after class. Unless you are a stay-at-home parent or are home-schooled, you really don't have a time to reach the card store during the week which leaves you with a five-hour window on Saturday.

Why not have Sunday football events?
Bring in some pizza, chips, and beverages. If you're watching the local team on TV (Browns for example), run a contest where whomever gets the most Browns players gets 25% off the next box or a free pack or something. If you're worried about the cost, off-set it by taking a $2 entry fee. The idea is to bring traffic into the store and have a good time.

I like card stores and I'd like them to be a gathering place to talk about the hobby, sports and have fun. Seeing my local store open for 5 hours on the weekend is a bummer.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Twitter #FollowFriday Sports Card Blogs

If you're on twitter, you are probably familiar with the #FollowFriday Twitter trend. If you're not familiar with #FollowFriday, it's basically a way to recommend people on twitter using the hashtag #FollowFriday.

Twitter users started the trend in January and it's been running every Friday since then. It's easy, you can recommend as many as you want, and it builds good karma!

It's a great to way to alert the people who follow you of other twitter users you enjoy following and reading.

How do you do it?
Log in to twitter and send a tweet like this:
#FollowFriday Sports Cards @VOTC, @Wax_Heaven, @FCBsportscards, @SCUncensored, @UpperDeckSports, @beckettmedia, @blowoutcards

No Twitter No Problem
You don't have to be a twitter user to follow the conversation and see what these accounts tweet about. You can go to and search for any of these users. Click on their name once you find them to bring up their twitter page. For example, mine is In the bottom right corner you'll see "RSS feed of JamesRyanJ's tweets." You can subscribe to mine, or anyone's twitter feed by adding the link to RSS reader and begin following the conversation.

Tip: Subscribing to their tweets using RSS is helpful if you want to see what they tweet without the person knowing you are following them. Remember, twitter and social media is extremely transparent, so anyone can follow, read the tweets and see what's out there.

I'll try to get do a #FollowFriday each week for sports cards. Post a comment or send me an email if you'd like your twitter feed and link to your blog to be included next week.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Be a Fan and Get a Gift Card

Steiner Sports is giving away gift cards every day. To win, just become a Facebook fan by clicking here.

It looks like today's freebie went to someone who answered a trivia question correctly. Steiner announced the heads-up via their Twitter account.

HoJo Loses Another Mets Record

Move over Howard Johnson. Friday, David Wright will become the Mets third base king. Assuming Wright plays 3B in Friday's game, he will have played more games on the hot-corner as a member of the NY Mets.

Wright will bump Howard Johnson down to #2 on the list. HoJo also had plenty of games at SS and in the OF for the Mets.

My other favorite Mets third basemen: Ray Knight (1986 World Series MVP) and Don Zimmer! Yes, in 1962 Zim was the first 3B in Mets history.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Rollback Pricing with Mounted Memories and MAB

The struggling economy continues to affect the autograph show industry. Mounted Memories and MAB have been cutting the fat pricing structures and are offering more rollback prices for their guests.

The Mounted Memories autograph area at the November Chicago Sun Times Show will have several rollback pricing offerings. Some players are $20 and $30 cheaper now. Gary Carter's prices have dropped down to $49 per autograph baseball.

There are also some great football HOFers for $29 and $39!

MAB has lower pricing for several players at their November "Backstop Boys" show. Johnny Bench, Ivan Rodriguez, Yogi Berra, and Don Mattingly are about $20 cheaper.

Do the cheaper prices tell us how much the hobby is struggling? Or does it tell us how over-priced it was?

CardInformant Adds 20+ Years of Experience with Rich Klein

CardInformant announced over the weekend that Rich Klein will be a regular contributor to their site and to the message boards. I read Jeff's (CardInformant) announcement on Twitter Saturday night.

I remember reading Rich's columns in Beckett magazine for years and look forward seeing his take again on CardInformant. Rich's first article with CardInformant provides some background information on his experience and passion for the hobby.

Congrats to Rich and Jeff on the new agreement. I met Jeff from CardInformant at the 2009 National Sports Collectors Convention and recently became friends with Rich on Facebook. I think they are great people and true hobby enthusiast.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Farmville Can Save the Sports Card Hobby

Whenever I log in to facebook, my home page is littered with my friends' Farmville status updates. Originally I ignored the updates and shrugged them off as some game for kids, but eventually more and more of my "adult" facebook friends began getting involved.

Now, I can't log on to facebook without one of my buddies having an update, "Jim just accomplished . . . on Farmville."

What is farmville? It's a game you play within facebook - an application you download to your profile. As the game begins, you receive some land to start a farm (fruits, veggies, animals, etc). Each crop grows at a different rate and you build a harvest to sell, buy more, plant, etc. This process grows your faux farm.

It seems to be pretty addicting. If you don't log in to the facebook application and tend to your field, you won't have a good harvest. The application even updates you with information on your farm and your farming friends can ask you for help doing farm chores.

So I started looking around facebook to see what applications Topps and Upper Deck have come up with. I didn't find anything! Where are they? I found some baseball card applications, but they seemed pretty weak.

Are the sports cards companies missing an opportunity? Considering the success of eTopps, I would have guessed they would have a facebook application. Before you knock on eTopps (I don't use it either), consider the numbers. According to, eTopps gets about 10k unique visitors per month and the user base primarily consists of males, age 35-49 with some college education.

eTopps could:
- Provide an application to trade, buy, and display your eTopps card. It would tie in with your online account.
- Create a digital binder with your eTopps cards.
- Update your profile status every time you make a trade or buy a new eTopps card.
- Send you announcements of the latest offerings.

Pizza Hut is another example of large companies connecting with their audience. Pizza Hut has an application on facebook that allows you to order pizza from your facebook account and receive a discount. I think it would make sense if Upper Deck (or whomever) had an application where you could buy one of their products after seeing it offered in your "virtual sports card binder." The application could direct you to a preferred UD vendor where you'd buy the box or case and get a discount.

I only picked on eTopps and Upper Deck as examples, but I believe the key to our hobby's success is to be more social. The card companies can use Farmville's best practices to grow the hobby. Most card companies have dipped their toe in the facebook shallow end of the pool with fan pages and groups, but it's time to do more.

Facebook's growth is amazing. The online social networking site now has a user base that would make it the fourth largest country in the world!

The card companies need to do more than create a page and post images. It's time to create an application, a virtual binder, and get more social.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

2010 National Sports Collectors Convention Meet Up?

The 2010 National Sports Collectors Convention in Baltimore will occur when the Orioles are playing home games.

The National is Wednesday, August 4 through Sunday, August 8. Right now, the show is scheduled to close at 6:00pm Thursday through Saturday. This would give us plenty of time to meet somewhere, watch the game and talk about the National and the hobby.

I've updated the National Group page on Facebook and started a discussion thread about this. Stop by or comment here about the idea and if you'd be interested in attending.

I updated the details on the National on the Facebook page.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The FBI and Retirement Communities Stopping Memorabilia Crime

Dorothy Jane Mills is teaming with the FBI to stop the sale of stolen sports memorabilia.

This summer, Mrs. Mills, a baseball historian, helped answer some FBI questions which prevented the sale of items at memorabilia auctions.

"There is growing concern that huge numbers of collectible historical documents are finding their way into auctions without any proof that the sellers are the legitimate owners. Theft from public collections is rampant, and most of it has probably not been discovered."

You can read the complete story here at the Fort Myers Florida Weekly - the photo is also from them. Thanks to a twitter update from SABR with the heads-up.

OJ is Bad for Your Heart

I think it's the big one!

Seriously, Bruce Fromong, a Las Vegas sports memorabilia dealer is suing OJ Simpson and five other men who were in the the Las Vegas hotel conference room during the Juice's robbery attempt.

Fromong claims his four heart attacks since the September 2007 heist are caused by the emotional stress of the Juice and his henchmen.
OJ is currently in a Nevada prison serving 9-33 years for the incident 2 years ago.

More on the story here.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Lenny Dykstra Selling His 1986 Mets Ring

Lenny's knack for buying and selling stocks crashed into a wall harder than he ever did. Dykstra, who recently filed for bankruptcy is now selling his 1986 World Series Championship ring!

Thanks to Cardboard Connection for the story, link and image.

The description of the auction estimates the ring worth between $20,000 and $30,000. It seems a bit high to me, but considering the Mets aren't that close to bringing home another one . . . As of this Monday afternoon, the bid is close to $10,000.

You have until October 2, 2009 to place your bids. If only I hadn't bought that Wally Backman bat. . .

Gary Carter Autograph Ducks Baseball

Gary Carter will sign anything . . . that has a Long Island Ducks logo. The former Mets catcher and Hall of Famer is the manager of the independent league baseball team and signs autographs before most games.

However, Carter will only sign Long Island Ducks merchandise for free. If you want a Mets item signed, he requests a $25 donation to the Gary Carter Foundation.

Positive blog karma to Paul from Paul's Random Stuff for getting the autograph baseball and sending it to me. This is a great piece to add to my Mets collection. Paul l was nice enough to attend the game and navigate his way to Carter for the autograph. All I had to do was pay for the baseball and shipping. A HOF autograph and an'86 Mets champion for the price of a baseball and USPS - sounds good to me! Check out Paul's blog or follow him on Twitter.

Gary Carter will finish his first season as manager of the Long Island Ducks on Sunday. They have an afternoon home game against the Camden Riversharks. I hope his 2010 season as Manager is a few exits down on the Long Island Expressway at Citi Field!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Baseball Card Collecting on Sesame Street

Baseball cards, the Mets, and Sesame Street!

Friday, September 11, 2009

All About the Metstache

Could the NY Mets problem this year be their lack of Metstaches? Other than Johan Santana, who's sporting a good 'stache.

Looking back at the 1986 Mets teams, they seemed to be loaded with Metstaches. Keith Hernandez, HoJo and Wally Backman had the most famous 'staches.

And don't forget Randy Niemann! I found this 1986 Fleer in my piles of Mets cards. Niemann was on the '86 Championship team. He appeared in 31 games and finished the season 2-3 with a 3.79 ERA. Niemann was at an MAB autograph show last fall and signed my 1986 World Series baseball.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Top 9 Baseball Players Wore 9.

On 9/9/09 you need to have a Top 9 list.

Here are my Top 9 baseball players who wore the #9.

1. Ted Williams
2. Reggie Jackson
3. Roger Maris
4. Bill Mazeroski
5. Joe Torre
6. Todd Hundley
7. Joe Adcock
8. Gabby Hartnett
9. Rogers Hornsby(one season)

Ha... I had to sneak Todd Hundley in there! He's better than fellow #9s on the Mets like Greg Jefferies and Ricky Ledee!

Cardboard Junkie also has a Top 9 covering all sports.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Mets Wally Backman Game-Used Bat

I picked up my first game-used bat.

The bat in the picture is a game-used bat from Wally Backman. You can see it matches the bat in the card from the previous post. I bought the bat from "Mookie's Tickets and Sports Memorabilia" at the National Sports Collectors Convention in Cleveland.
I've never been a huge game-used collector since there always seems to be issues with legitimacy and such, but Lenny (the owner) sold me on this one. He had a ton of '86 Mets bats. HoJo and Gary Carter may be my favorite Mets, but Backman is right up there. He was such a spark for those late-80s teams.
I still believe Wally Backman would make a better manager than half the managers in baseball - just look at his minor league managing records and awards. Yes, he had some off-field issues, but should they prevent him from working in the major leagues?

Anyway, what's your suggestion on the best way to display a game used bat? Right now, I have it in a plastic bat tube.

I'm also thinking about getting it signed, but I've read some negative feedback by a certain promoter that has Wally at an autograph session this month. Do I take the chance? Or wait for another Wally Backman signing?

Friday, September 4, 2009

Fill in the Mets' Wally Backman _____

It's a new game... Fill in the _____ (blank).

Fill in the blank space:
"James owns Wally Backman's _____ as seen in the scanned card."

No hints, clues, cheating or prizes.
Good luck.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Autograph of a Convict - The Koos is Going to the Pokey

Outside of my Pete Rose and '86 Mets collection, I didn't think I had any cards or autographs of former inmates.

However, tonight I learned that I now have an autograph from a convict. Former Mets pitcher and 1969 World Series Champion, Jerry Koosman is going to jail. Koosman was sentenced to six months in prison for not paying federal taxes.

I saw Jerry Koosman at the 1969 Mets reunion night at $iti Field and the MAB autograph show last month.

Will my snot ball autograph go up in value?

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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Remember Why You Are Here

Why are you here?

Whether you're a magazine publisher, a blogger, or blog reader - You are here for a reason. You enjoy discussing sports cards, autographs, or memorabilia.

Follow your passion. Read and write about what you enjoy and don't make it personal.

Just my 2 cents.

Don't worry - my next post will follow the same incoherent sports card/memorabilia rant as the others.

The Mind of a Collector in His 30s

As I near my mid-30s, I've started thinking about what things in life I want to accomplish before I hit the next milestone birthday.

I'm not saying that once you hit 40 - all activity ends, but I'd like to have a few goals to reach before I near the big 4-0. The goals I'm thinking about are more individualistic. Obviously being a good dad, coaching my kids teams and that sort are on my list. Know what I mean? Am I making a sense at all?

Here's what I have so far:

- Hike the Grand Canyon.
- Run in a 10K.
- Skydive (I have a huge fear of heights and I'd like to get over this by jumping out of a perfectly fine airplane.)

Any suggestions?

I know. . . this isn't really about cards or memorabilia - I think I just needed a break from it all.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Visions of Bobby Bo Dancing Through His Own Head

I was never a Bobby Bonilla Fan. Bonilla signed a fat contract with the Mets before the 1992 season and after he completed 4 straight all-star years in Pittsburgh and twice finishing in the top 3 for MVP award.

In his first New York season Bonilla watched his batting average drop 50 points and started wearing ear-plugs at Shea Stadium. His 'hear-no-evil' and "I'm just chillin'" attitude convinced me he needed to get out of New York. Unfortunately, it took the Mets think-tanks another 3 more seasons before they came to that conclusion.

The Mets ended up trading Bonilla to the Baltimore Orioles for Alexa Ochoa and Damon Buford. It doesn't sound like a good trade for the Mets, but I would have taken a bucket of curve balls for Bobby Bonilla!

Unfortunately the Mets didn't learn their lesson and traded for him again before the 1999 season - Bonilla hit .160 in 60 games to show his appreciation. He also found his playing cards partner Rickey Henderson during this stint in New York. It was rumored that he and Rickey were in the club house when Kenny Rogers walked in the winning run vs the Atlanta Braves in the 1999 NLCS. Thanks for being there Bobby! We wouldn't want your playing cards to interfere with your playing time!

This 1992 Pinnacle card says everything you need about Bobby Bo.