Friday, October 24, 2014

Interview with artist Christopher Paluso

Christopher Paluso is a well-known artist in the San Diego area, specializing in sports and aerospace painting. He kindly answered my questions about baseball cards.

Do you have any behind-the-scenes stories about cards you created?
The 2003 Upper Deck Play Ball Major League Baseball set where I was the lead illustrator. It started out they wanted to have me be the lone artist, it became evident that the timeline was too tight, so they added two other illustrators to complete the set. What is unique is that the images were done with white backgrounds, but I did a series of images that were similar to the original 1941 Playball set we fashioned the new set after. I did them in a way that they were equivalent to four widths of a card. This way no two backgrounds would be alike and would mean a background I did was behind an illustration of another artist.

 Do you have a favorite card (either one you painted or a different card)?
Well this one card was special for a couple of reasons. It was the Troy Glaus then California Angel. He was a Southern California boy playing for the Angels and when I was painting his image they were playing in the 2002 World Series, and right when I was finishing it he was up to bat and he hits a homerun. I had a tv going in my studio so I would not miss the games. Makes for a great memory.

 - Do you collect baseball cards?
So here comes the fun story with this. Yes I collect some cards, but mostly I have balls, bats, and misc. memorabilia in my collection, which is small. So as part of our payment for the artwork we did for the set, we were given five factory sealed boxes of the cards. Five cards per pack and 24 packs per box. I received them UPS on the day I was going down to my Tax man who was a big collector and very good friend Tony Pulli. His dad's cousin was MLB Umpire Frank Pulli. My wife tells me not to stop and look at them so as not to be late for my appointment. I said I have to take at least one box and because this was my first time with my art on a card. I take one random box and head out the door. Get to Tony's and go into his office and we decided to go ahead and open at least one of the packs. Now there is a back story to this. UpperDeck bought one set of the original set from 1941(only 72 cards) and randomly placed into packs. Now back to the opening of the first pack. I carefully opened up the pack and reached in and pulled out what I thought was one of the cards. Only it was in a plastic soft sleeve and it had a printed note congratulating me on getting an original 1941 card. The card I got was special on a number of levels, it was of a player who came from my hometown of San Diego and was the first of the 144 Hall of Fame images I have done for the San Diego Hall of Champions Sports Hall of Fame who I had two special meetings with, none other than Ted Williams. His card is the second most valuable card to Joe DiMaggio. What a great pull I have been told whenever I tell the story. The card is in our safety deposit box.

Thanks! Here once again is the original Paluso painting I acquired last week, which is what inspired me to look him up and reach out to him:

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Al Sadler on baseball cards

Al Sadler pitched in the Brewers organization from 1992 to 1998. In 219 games he went 35-34 with 20 saves and a 4.30 ERA. Now a special education teacher and the owner of Al Sadler's Baseball in Conyers, GA, he kindly answered my questions about baseball cards.

"The one story I have about my card and probably the favorite is the one in Beloit with my leg kicked up. The real story behind the high leg picture is I had just gotten those shoes which no one else had at the time. I believe they were the new Bo Jackson's and I was trying to be funny and show them off all at the same  
I do not collect cards myself but my son and nephew does. I don't have the patience and they aren't worth what they used to be."

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Billy Sample on baseball cards

Outfielder Billy Sample played nine seasons in the major leagues for the Rangers, Yankees and Braves. In 826 games he hit .272 with 46 HR and 230 RBI. He has written the script for a baseball movie that was released in 2013 called Reunion 108, (out on DVD shortly with soundtrack available on iTunes and 31 other music sites) and has acted in that and several other movies. He kindly answered my questions about baseball cards.

"During my first full year in the majors (1979), I got a card request that went something like this, "Mr. Sample, I think you are an outstanding young player and I would love to get your autograph ... and oh, by the way, could you get me Buddy Bell, Al Oliver and Richie Zisk's autographs too?"  And for that one time, I actually did.  I quickly learned from my 'Rookie Mistake' 

In old age and twenty-eight years from my last groundout to short, I still get about five autograph request per week sent to the house, all in mint condition, amazing; anyway, on the Prospects cards which has Danny Darwin and Pat Putnam preceding me from left to right, if I'm the first one to sign, I'll often tell the collector to remind the other two, that I'm still the best-looking guy on the card.  Darwin can fight and Putnam is real strong, so I may have to use my separating attribute; speed, to avoid any possible altercations :-)  

Most of the baseball card pictures are taken early in the morning in spring training, and that's not my best look.  I have a card in a Braves uniform, with those thin spring training caps, where I am in much need of a haircut.  I am still trying to keep that card out of view of my aunts, Bernice and Wincey, who would still admonish me, as old as I am, for having loose ends of hair going every which-a-way, embarrassing the family and myself. :-)  

Aside from that previous card and one in a Texas uniform that is so underexposed that you can hardly see me, I like my cards.  
My favorite is one in a Yankees' uniform in which I am doffing my cap.  Okay, okay, so it's staged, yet, I believe there is only one other player who has taken a picture that way.   
I'm not a card collector, my mother-in-law, Gloria, mounted my cards on wood and gave it to me as a present, and a fan did that as well, which I appreciated.  Once when going to the premiere of the movie, Echelon 8, my buddy, Keith Collins, invited me to be a part of the red carpet arrivals.  Since I wasn't in the movie, I thought I might need to identify myself to the photographers, so I carried a bunch of my baseball cards, almost as a joke.  Well, the photographers were all baseball fans and lapped up the cards with conversations of how they internalized the game and its history."

Thanks! And thank you to Wolfman Shapiro, who writes the Ultimate Strat Baseball Newsletter, for the introduction to Sample, who he recently interviewed for his newsletter. He is interested in interviewing baseball card bloggers who played Strat-O-Matic for his newsletter, so contact him if you would like to be interviewed.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Huge Haul Part V: Baseball hits

Finally, some highlights from the higher-end baseball cards in the second lot. Not quite as impressive as the football hits, but still some very cool cards, one in particular.

There was a big section of 1981 Fleer Star Stickers, which I guess is borderline vintage. Nice picture of Don Sutton doing what he does best.
  Pretty rare to get any kind of Trout card, let alone a cool-looking insert like this.
 I thought it was really cool when I pulled a Dick Perez 1/1 sketch card of Derek Jeter. Imagine my surprise when I came across a second, and then a third! Apparently Topps made an error - there was a 1/1 sketch card for each player, then Topps made a copy of it for a reprinted sketch card which was mass-produced but forget to remove the 1/1 from Perez's signature. Oh well, two of them are up for trade if anyone wants them.
 A Mickey Mantle card numbered to just 29 copies. With so many Mantle collectors out there I'm really psyched to have this card.
 There were a couple of real vintage cards in this set. Just because I don't actively collect vintage (no way I could afford it) I definitely appreciate getting cards like this. Here's a 1960 Norm Siebern!
 I like this one even better, from 1962 Topps. Even though it's a posed shot it has a real candid feel with the amount of detail in the background with the old, old Yankee Stadium and even the guy in the windbreaker.
This is definitely the coolest card in the lot though - a Bob Feller pants card. To have a relic card of a legendary, inner-circle Hall-of-Famer is really fun, definitely a centerpiece for my collection.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Huge Haul Part IV: Football hits

First off, an update on that Ivan Rodriguez painting I showed yesterday. This one:

It turns out it comes from the 2003 Upper Deck Play Ball set. Here is what the actual card looks like:
If anyone has this card I would love to trade for it. Apparently in 2003 Upper Deck had a contest to give away the original art for each card in the Play Ball set. This one was painted by Artist Christopher Paluso. Looking online, there are eBay auctions right now for the Todd Helton painting for $400 and the Carlos Delgado painting for $225. I don't have a COA or anything but the frame on my painting is the same as those, so I am going to assume mine is legit. It's cool to have a painting worth over $100 but even cooler to have original baseball card art.

This painting was many things the guy was just throwing into the second box he sold me. That box contained about 800 "hit cards" from football and baseball - numbered, refractored, inserts, vintage, autographs, jersey cards, etc. The football hits actually probably surpassed the baseball hits in quantity and quality. Here are some highlights:

Very little from this box would be up for trade. However I did notice several copies of this Chrome Peyton Manning card.
 I've loved tight ends ever since Mark Bavaro. Here are jerseys from two great ones.
 A very cool vintage oddball - from 1976 Wonder Bread.
 I'd forgotten Ronnie Lott was a Jet. Great player.
 Very cool to get an autograph of Mathias Kiwanuka, one of the great Giants of recent years.
 And a patch card of one of the greatest Giants of all time!
 When the guy was telling me about the box he specifically mentioned a Leon Washington rookie autograph. I was hoping it was the one where he is flipping a double bird. Still, this one is pretty cool.
 Always cool to get a jersey card of a hall of famer.
 Oldest football card now in my collection - this one is from 1964 Topps.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Huge Haul Part III: Non-sport and non-card stuff

The guy I bought the two lots of cards from was basically just trying to make room in his apartment. As a result, he started "throwing in" a lot of stuff into the big plastic tub that had some of the cards in it. There was a great variety of interesting and unusual things here, some of which I am keeping but others are up for trade.

This first set was actually in the first lot, but fits better here. It was a ton of cards (maybe the whole set) from the 1991 Gulf War set. So weird to have a trading card set about a war going on while it was happening. This is up for trade if anyone wants it.
  I saw this 1998 Yankee Valentino and thought that it sounded familiar. I figured it was just hyped a lot during the beanie baby craze.
 Then I looked at the back of the card inside the case. It turns out that this is one of the Beanie Babies given out at Yankee Stadium the day David Wells threw a perfect game against the Twins. This one is a keeper.
 There was a ton more beanie baby stuff which is up for trade if anyone wants it.
 Some other really random non-sport trading card sets (all up for trade if anyone is interested): Harlem Globetrotters, Valiant Comics, Beetlejuice the Animated Series, and the Godzilla movie with Matthew Broderick. That last one really surprised me - they made trading cards for it?

 Apparently they also made trading cards for the movie Hook. Again, up for trade if anyone has anyone wants them.
 Probably the weirdest thing the guy threw in were two sets of Butthedz Presents Miss Masters Spoofy Tunes. This were apparently made in Canada by an artist named Dave Dawson, and they present gross or salacious interpretations of the news and pop culture. Think South Park meets Garbage Pail Kids.
 Here is an example of the level of artwork and humor:

 Here's one they did that rips on card collectors. Kind of funny actually.

 These two sets are up for trade if anyone wants them.

There were four Becketts from the mid-2000 with Yankee or Met covers (Ryan, Reyes, Rodriguez and Jeter). If there is interest in trading for these let me know.
 Also to trade is this hardcover book from 1991 called Elevating the Game: Black Men and Basketball.
 It is not autographed but does contain a lot of press information so it's kind of interesting.
 These last two items I'm probably going to keep. This is an original Ivan Rodriguez painting, apparently a give-away from some card. I thought the guy said the artist's name was Peluso. Anyone know anything about this.
 Finally, also framed, was this photo of Hank Greenberg that was apparently given out in copies of Baseball Magazine during his playing career. Looking at eBay it's apparently from 1935 and goes for about $50 today, but I'm not trading or selling such a cool piece of memorabilia.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Huge haul post II: Recent baseball cards

This is the second part of the huge haul I picked up the other day. This is what I thought was all I was getting when I visited the guy. Of course it turned out to be much more.

One thing I am realizing with all of these recent transactions is that I am going to have a ton of dupes to trade, not amazing hits but definitely not junk wax. I am thinking of doing some kind of trade-a-thon, kind of like what Hot Corner Cards did recently. Look for something like that later this year...

Anyway, here are some highlights from the 1,000 or so baseball cards I thought would be the centerpiece of this transaction.

The guy was telling me "I know this is a good box because there's a bunch of Finest." I don't know that Finest is the big deal it was when it first came out but there was plenty in there. A lot of base cards plus one giant Finest cards of Darren Daulton.
 In the Craigslist photo there were a bunch of the new Donruss cards. That pretty much sold me because I am really enjoying that set. There weren't any inserts though which was a disappointment because I've seen them on other blogs and thought they looked cool, though it seems the reception for them on the blogosphere has been a bit cool. Well, if anyone has any inserts they want to get rid of I'd definitely be interested.
 A lot of SPs were in the box, which was cool because I don't have many and they are really great looking cards.
 There was quite a bit of unlicensed Signature brand cards across all sports.
 Most of the cards were mint but some were in pretty bad shape. A lot of the beat up cards were throwbacks, and I actually kind of like the idea of a poor condition throwback, it makes it look like a more realistic example of a 60 year old card.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Another huge haul of cards I don't have any time for...

Right now I have a six-week-old, a three-year-old, am selling one house, buying another, and renting one in between. I have maybe half an hour a day to slowly go through sorting the 35,000 card extravaganza I bought last week. And yet there I was yesterday buying another large haul of cards. This one wasn't as big as the other one - maybe 5,000 or so cards all in, but was a lot more eclectic and interesting.

This was actually two lots. I was originally going to buy one lot of recent baseball and football cards for $18 - about 3,000 cards. However, the guy (who turned out to be a former dealer at the flea market I used to frequent - I may have even bought cards off the guy there years ago) found another box, an 800-count packed with nothing but inserts, refractors, parallels, numbered cards, jersey cards, autographs and vintage baseball and football, and mostly New York teams, which he let me have for $20. That's a pretty good deal especially for local teams whose prices usually get jacked up by dealers here, so I knew these were cards I would never get a shot at again at these prices. Finally, the guy, who was trying to make some room in his apartment, threw in a whole bunch of non-card and non-baseball stuff.

This haul was so big and varied that I am going to break it up into five posts.
I (today) - Recent football cards
II - Recent baseball cards
III - non-card and non-baseball stuff
IV - Football hits
V - Baseball hits

There is some really good stuff in each section. I will start off  with the football cards from the original lot. Football, like vintage baseball, is something I passively collect - I keep all the cards I get incidentally in lots like these (except for dupes which I trade) but I draw the line at actively collecting just recent baseball to keep my collecting from getting too expensive. When I was a kid I actually collected football cards and stickers right alongside baseball cards and stickers, from about 1986-1989. Then from about 1990-1993 I only collected baseball cards before stopping collecting for about ten years.

There were probably about 1,500 football cards in the lot, including a lot of big stars.
 There were a ton of that particular Pacific Crown set, as well as 1994 Ultra and 2007 Topps in particulary.

There were a lot of random cards from the last ten years or so, including a bunch of these "event-worn" Freshman Fabric cards, all of which have been thoroughly beaten up. Looks like Matt Leinart's card got sacked by the Giants.