Saturday, June 30, 2012

A Knight of Sport Kings

It is few and far between that I am excited about new products. Don't misunderstand me, I have interest in lots of the new stuff, but that different from EXCITEMENT !

The SPORT KINGS GUM series that has been revived of late. It is a continuation of the classic cards of various sports stars from the 1930's. And it is only fitting that the 2012 set contain a players that was a star from that pre-war period.

Stanley Matthews was featured in several tobacco and trade cards from the 1930's all the was to his last playing season in 1965. He was first dubbed "the wizard of dribble" for his skillful artistry with the ball. 

As an ambassador of the game to all part of the world, he was never sent off and never booked during his career. He was knighted by the Queen of England in 1965, the first soccer player to be honored as such.
Sir Stanley Matthews is seen in the colors of Stoke City FC with which he began in 1930. He served in WWII and returned to the "Potters" until he was transferred to  Blackpool in 1947. He returned to Stoke City in 1961 while earning 54 caps for England. (he had an additional 29 war-time appearances)

The Sport Kings set contains a subset of  "papercuts", unique one-of-a-kind autograph cards.

If I could own one card, to add to my present collection, it would be this one.

I once had the pleasure of meeting Sir Stan and found him to be the very essence of class. I asked him to send me a postcard when he returned to Stoke, England. A few weeks later I received a postcard in the mail. Neatly written on it " Best Wishes from Stan Matthews".

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

1970's Swingin' Oakland A's in 3-D

Over at The Chronicles of Fuji, my fellow blogger waxed on about his favorite player RICKEY HENDERSON. The 1980's found the hobby a growing monster of collecting madness. Every entrepreneur was getting in the act of baseball trinkets. 

This medallion coin was produced for Rickey Henderson breaking Lou Brock's base stealing record.

This reminded me of my affinity for the 1970's Oakland A's - a team filled with some of the best names ever printed on baseball cards - Rollie Fingers, Vida Blue and "Blue Moon" Odom to mention a few.

But besides the cardboard cards, there was the mornings with the cereal box and 3-D cards.

Part of my collection included these favorites made for the KELLOGG'S breakfast company:

1970 Kellogg's - REGGIE JACKSON

After featuring Hall of Famer REGGIE JACKSON in Kellogg's debut, the 1971 set was oddly devoid of any the stars that would be part of the A's three World Series (1972-1975).

1971 Kellogg's  - PAT DOBSON - how Pat made it into this set while Jackson was left out is curious. It must be based on his career high 16 wins in 1970.
1971 Kellogg's - DON MINCHER - his 5th year reaching 20 or more HRs made Don a star for the Kellogg's set. He hit 27 HRs, a career high, in 1970.

1971 Kellegg's - FILIPE ALOU - Filipe would not even finish the 1971 season as an "Oakland Athletic" before being traded to the Yankees. 

1971 Kellogg's - RICK MONDAY - made his fame with another California team, playing 3 World Series with the L.A. Dodgers (1977, 1978, 1981).

1972 Kellogg's - VIDA BLUE - the reigning Cy Young winner and A.L. Most Valuable Player.

1974 Kellogg's - REGGIE JACKSON - MVP season

1974 Kellogg's - "CATFISH" HUNTER - won 21 games for the 3rd season running. This was the middle of 5 consecutive 20 win seasons. Hall of Fame in 1987.   

1975 Kellogg's - REGGIE JACKSON - always looked good in the green and gold. But would soon be a Baltimore Oriole (not a great look).

Great cereal. Great cards. Great memories.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Howie Long and the Marlins

 For those of you who have been following along, you know that I am always finding sports memorabilia along with my toy collecting. In my recent garage sale / flea market journey I found two nice items that should go to a better home.

Howie Long and the Marlins could be a great name for a reggae band, but its just two artifacts seeking attention. The attention to detail of the OAKLAND RAIDERS action figure of HOWIE LONG is amazing. From the mud and grass stains to the sneer on his face, McFarlane is still the finest when it comes to sports figures.
I thought of putting together some cage matches of the Howie figure against say - the ALIEN creature from the film.

Somehow I think the mild looking NFL announcer would reach out and crush the alien's extra head !

The 2nd item was a cold stone statue miniature of the FLORIDA MARLINS (MIAMI MARLINS) baseball stadium.  I have no idea what they call it now, but it used to Joe Robbie, then Pro Player Stadium.

Either way, if anyone is interested in buying or trading for these, I would be quite open to offers.

Monday, June 25, 2012


While Germany is through to the semifinals of the EURO 2012 tournament, I waited for the mail to bring a promised soccer card. FUTERA is probably the highest end soccer cards in the world. Their production of 500 sets to fill the appetite of the entire globe makes their product rare if nothing else.

I was waiting on a replacement card for a returned 1 of 1 autograph. I had small expectations as this could be anyone from the recently sold Lionel Messi or Diego Maradona - both of which sold for over $4,000 on ebay to the lesser known players included in the run.

When my package arrived, I was happy to see a current German international THOMAS MULLER on the card. 

Muller was the Golden Boot inner at the 2010 FIFA World Cup as top goal scorer. He was also voted best young player of the tournament. Playing his club football at BAYERN MUNICH, he has already won 1 Championship and one German Cup title with the Bavarians. 

It may not be the most legible autograph, but much better than most of the modern ones I've seen. Having already immortalized himself as top scorer in a FIFA World Cup is great, but he is only 22 years old. Germany finished in 3rd place in 2010 and will end in no less than 4th place with the semifinals yet to be played.

I do not care for the design of the 2012 Futera Unique gold autograph cards. I actually like the ones form earlier years. But as a valued 1 of 1 cards go, this is a pretty sweet one to own.

Did I mention that the card is covered in 24 carat gold ? 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

PANINI EURO 2012 STICKERS - Product Review

As I  await for the afternoon hour to kickoff the last quarterfinal of EURO 2012, I rip open another packet of 2012 PANINI Euro stickers.

All this is thanks to our friends over at PANINI AMERICA.

The package arrived on Friday but there was so much going on I waited until I had some sleep before approaching the box. A rather big box, for one to transport such a small box of stickers !
To my surprise, there were 2 albums included in the box (ergo the size of box). Unfortunately, they used rubber bands to roll them up. The box and the album is decorated with the flower motive of Euro 2012 - Poland / Ukraine.

The albums had a starter bonus of 10 stickers so I was already on my way to finishing the set (well, maybe). This issue was different from past years when the stickers were just an uncut sheet of the players. These are spread over a larger sheet where boarders do not touch. In addition to the 8 players, there are 2 stickers that make up Stadium Miejski in Poland.

The 8 players stickers are a nice rounding of stars: Fabregas (Spain), Malouda (France), Keane (Ireland), Boateng (Germany), Rooney (England), D Rossi (Italy), C. Ronaldo (Portugal) and van Persie (Netherlands).

There are several noticeable additions to the albums. The number of players for each squad is greater so that each nation has 20. The bonus is that every country also has 3 star players "in action" stickers. In the past, only the players in the set were listed in the album. For Euro 2012, the complete roster of players from qualifying and recent games are included.

Panini stickers sets have almost always been a portrait style of photos with minimal data on the stickers. Previous issues, like World Cup, had the data inside the album for the players birthdate, height, weight, club and position.   

These are are all on the actual sticker for the Euro 2012 set.

Each album has a insert form so that collectors can send away for their missing stickers to complete the set. This has always been a great tradition with Panini.

The box comes with a hologram seal and shrink wrap. Not that anyone would tamper with soccer stickers, but if in the future there was a question of authenticity, Panini has it covered.

The packets are matching purple and flower theme that runs throughout the product. In contrast to past years, the large bar code is now on the front of the packet rather than the back. 

The collation of the stickers is pretty good - I got only 2 duplicates after opening about half the box. The team photos for each country consists of 4 stickers. While the size of the photo becomes a nice viewable size, the stickers are a bit useless if you only get a fraction of the completed group. 

After half the box, I had yet to complete a team photo.

What we like about PANINI Euro 2012: 
The portrait photos by Panini make for instant identification of international players. Most depict a good shot of the National Team crest and jersey. The stats on the sticker give a bit more data without having the album at hand. (although the albums used to be like stat books of info)
The increased number of players per squad means that most likely every star that participates is included. However, some players fail like England's Rio Ferdinand and Frank Lampard are in the set but not at the tournament. (Some World Cup sets had supplimental stickers issued which have turned out to be very rare.)
As with past sets, previous competition's highlights were a subset of stickers. The Euros from 1960 to 2008 are pictured on stickers. There are some black and white photos and some memorable moments with these.

What we did not like about PANINI Euro 2012:
The flower theme was used on the team pages with the country names. So having the country name and flowers in cartoon duplicated on stickers was really unnecessary. While I was lucky to get these set to me by mail, I wish they were available at my nearest stores. I don't see any difference following this tournament and watching other American sports on TV. 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

1975 TOPPS - Manchester United

Adding to my 1975 Topps soccer set with the "red" side of Manchester. The mid 70's finds today's world's most expensive club absent of its legendary trio of Bobby Charlton, Denis Law and George Best. However, the side still has some very good international players:

MICK MARTIN - earned 51 caps for the Republic of Ireland. After 147 appearances for Newcastle United, he caught the end of the NASL wave by joining the VANCOUVER WHITECAPS.  Son of Irish soccer star Con Martin. 

WILLIE MORGAN - won 21 caps for Scotland including the 1974 World Cup. First came to America on loan to the Chicago Sting and then spent 3 seasons with the MINNESOTA KICKS. 

ALEX FORSYTH - winner of the 1977 F.A. Cup with United. Capped 10 times for Scotland. 

STUART PEARSON - another 1977 F.A. Cup winner. Also won the 1980 F.A. Cup with West Ham.  Earned 15 caps for England including the match against Team USA in 1976.

ALEX STEPNEY - the last holdover from the Manchester's great 1968 European Championship. He made an astonishing 546 appearances for United after which he joined the DALLAS TORNADO in America. 

Although I don't think I will ever complete this set, I have hopes of finishing my LIVERPOOL players list and a few more of the special cards like CENTURIONS and the TOPPS SELECT cards.

NEXT:  here is a clue - I'll be STUCK to the TV screen, watching EURO 2012 while eating my  PANINI ....

Friday, June 22, 2012


With EURO 2012 in the elimination phase of the competition, clubs around the world are jousting for the signatures on contracts for the upcoming season. Last year's Premier League title race went down to the final week of the final match of the final minute where Manchester City nipped cross-town rivals Manchester United on goal difference for the English Premier League Trophy. 

Both Manchester teams have a multi-million dollar payrolls of superstars (many playing in this year's Euros tournament).

But over 35 years ago both clubs were stocked with some very good players as well. I've added 7 cards from the TOPPS' debut soccer set to my collection. Topps took over after they purchased the A&BC brand which were the main producers of soccer product from 1958 to 1974.

Here is my Manchester City haul:

COLIN BARRETT - went on to win the 1979 League Cup with NOTTINGHAM FOREST.

ASA HARTFORD - went on to win 50 caps for Scotland including the 1978 and 1982 World Cup, and a 1984 Championship with Ft. Lauderdale in America.

JOE ROYLE - already an Everton legend with over 100 goals, earned 6 caps for England. 

DENIS TUEART - winner of 1973 FA Cup, 1976 League Cup before winning the MVP award while scoring twice for the NEW YORK COSMOS in the 1978 Soccer Bowl. The game was played before 75,000 fans. Won 6 caps for England.

RODNEY MARSH - winner of the 1967 League Cup with Q.P.R. and infamously being dropped from England squad after only 9 caps. He came to America and became a super star with the TAMPA BAY ROWDIES. Who can forget this great MILLER LITE  ad ?

COLIN BELL - winner of 48 caps for England and a legendary City player as seen on this version of TOPPS All-Star card. Came to America for a short stint with the SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES.
Honored with numerous awards and trophies including the Hall of Fame and made MBE by the Queen.

FRANCIS LEE - surprisingly only 27 caps for England but over 200 league goals as denoted on this card. Won league title with Manchester City and Derby County as well as the Uefa Cup in 1970.

I loved this design of cards when they came out for the 1975 baseball set. They are brightly colorful and reminiscent of the 1970's. I love them even more as a soccer card set. They have been very difficult to find in excellent or better condition due to the colored edges.  

Next: 1975 Topps Manchester United.

Sunday, June 17, 2012


Yesterday morning, with the Euro 2012 madness still swirling in my head, I had to take a break to do my usual garage sales and flea market treasure hunt. (Recently blogged about at "Chronicles of Fuji").

I got my usual this and that (toy collector stuff). However, at one table at the flea market was the booth that no one really approaches. Most of the stuff has been rotting on the tables or poorly stored for long periods.

I saw a few baseball cards (terribly overpriced from another decade) and flip a few plastic pages of junk cards. Underneath I found a few dozen clinking Topps baseball coins. I asked the elderly gentleman how much - and he replied "a dollar each". So I zoomed in on a few but ultimately, I purchased just one -

1971 Topps Coin of ROBERTO CLEMENTE

Its not even remotely in mint condition but not looking run over by a truck either. I thought it was a cool thing to have as he is one of my favorite baseball players of all time.

There were a few other star coins - namely, Thurman Munson. Should I go back and get it ?  Chime in with your thoughts.

Now its back to this afternoon's "GROUP OF DEATH" 2012 Euro matches ...

PS - I already had this coin, so if you want to trade - its up for grabs.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

One Hellas of A Tournament !

One great thing about collecting soccer cards is how much your learn about countries and their cities.
For instance, how many of you knew that the other name for the nation of Greece was HELLAS.

Well if you collect Panini for as long as I have, you would know (or soon find out).

Anyway, this EURO 2012 has been full of surprises and upsets with no less than the co-hosts, Poland, being knocked out the group along with favorites, Russia. This means we get to see at least another round with this goalkeeping legend - 
2011 FUTERA Heroes GOLD - Petr Cech

Last week when the tournament began, I opened a pack of 2011Futera I have been saving from last year and this was the hit card I got.  I now have 4 GOLD HEROES cards - Thierry Henry, Lionel Messi and Ronaldinho. 

So far the best goalies in the tournament for me have been:
"Gigi" BUFFON - Italy
Stipe PLETIKOSA - Croatia
Petr CECH - Czech Republic
Joe HART - England

It doesn't hurt that I collect both Cech and Buffon vigorously. I may do the same with Joe Hart, but I'm not much of a Manchester City fan.

It is amazing that all the group play has kept the teams close without any one team qualifying after the 2nd match. Tomorrow's "Group of Death" will be played out. Two of the top 10 teams in the world will be eliminated from Euro 2012 - of Germany, Holland, Portugal and Denmark - only 2 will advance to the next round.

So who are your favorite goalies of the tournament ?

Thursday, June 14, 2012


With the Euros going full steam over in Poland / Ukraine, the US Soccer Team was covertly earning its way to the next World Cup playing without TV coverage in Guatemala. 
In the spirit of international peace, I am not going to write and rant about this past Tuesdays US Soccer World Cup Qualifier being only available on pay-per-view. The American escaped from the 3rd World hell with a 1:1 draw thanks to stalwart  net minder - TIM HOWARD.
2011 Futera Unique TIM HOWARD card

As the USA will be take a break from the qualification to BRAZIL 2014 with no games until September, I am offering up a 2012 US SOCCER YEARBOOK to scout out the Yank's squad. 

It is filled with full color biographies of all the players with other stats and photos.

(above - Landon Donovan bio page.)

I usually sell these for $15 bucks in the year they come out and $10 when the next one comes out. 
Also, if anyone has this card ...

2011 Allen & Ginter  - TIM HOWARD autograph, I would be willing to trade and even add to the kitty.
I need all versions of the card - mini, black, jersey and base.


Here is what treasure hunting is all about. As I said in part 1, my eye caught the handy work of renown baseball artist DICK PEREZ. These 4 x 6 Perez-Steele cards were produced as beautiful, full color portraits in 15 series between 1983 and 2001. The following cards were limited edition of 10,000 all numbered on the back of the cards.

I'll let the pictures do most of the show:
What I was able to pick out of the box was:


Two St. Louis Cardinals HOF : STAN MUSIAL and ENOS SLAUGHTER


Two HOF American Leaguers : GEORGE KELL and LOU BOUDREAU



A Minnesota "killer: HARMON KILLEBREW

And two of the greatest : HANK AARON and WILLIE MAYS

The signatures are all nice a readable, in blue sharpie ink. 
As you can see, I ended up with 2 Ernie Bank cards, so if anyone wishes to trade or purchase, please shoot me mail.

When I looked these up in Robert Edwards Auction, I found out that 104 Hall of Famers were possible to have signed from the 15 series' produced. Having these 17 autographed is a great start.