My 1st Mantle

Over the past couple of years, I’ve participated in a bunch of vintage set breaks. These types of breaks are when you buy a spot and receive the card assigned to that spot by a blind draw. You are guaranteed a card for each spot purchased. These breaks are intriguing to me because you have a chance of landing some nice vintage cards at a fraction of what they typically sell for. I am a big fan of vintage cards and this is a fun way to add some to your collection.

I found @BurlsSports a couple of years ago on twitter. He generally does one vintage set break each week. He mixes it up with a nice variety of sets from 50s-70s and very reasonable prices per spot. I try to get in a couple breaks each month and have hit a few HOFers. Some of these include ‘65 Duke Snider, ‘66 Ernie Banks, ‘68 Steve Carlton and a ‘69 Joe Morgan. In April of this year, I landed my biggest hit to date. I pulled a 1965 Topps PSA 6 Steve Carlton RC. This sharp looking HOF RC was easily my biggest hit until recently.

Two weeks ago, a set of 1969 Topps was listed. This is one of my favorite sets from the ‘60s. I like the design and it’s loaded with HOF stars and a nice selection of rookies. Each spot was only $6, so I purchased 7 spots. For this set break, both versions of the Mickey Mantle cards were included. I usually do not watch the breaks live, but instead catch the video after it’s posted. The video started and a bunch of HOFers came off the board without my name being called. The biggest easily was card #260, a PSA 6 Reggie Jackson RC. Another batch of All stars, HOFers and stars were shown, then finally it was time for card #500, Mickey Mantle. Burl shows the card first. It’s a sharp looking PSA 5 White Font variation of The Mick. The card has crisp corners and edges, just OC a bit. He slowly scrolled down the list of names, stopped at #500 and the next thing I heard was my name called. I sat there stunned, staring at the screen. Holy Crap…I just won a Mantle! The 1st vintage Mantle that I own. Needless to say, the rest of the video was a blur.

This card is special for a few reasons. Some of the higher number cards in the ‘69 Topps set had a printing error where their names were in white font instead of yellow. This includes the Mickey Mantle card. This variation is more rare. At this time, PSA has graded 8,000 versions of this card. Only 1,040 were the white font variation. And of those, only 574 cards had a grade PSA 5 or better. Also, this is the last card that Topps made for his career. Mantle announced his retirement at the age of 37 in March of 1969. So the back of card #500 had the full career statistics of the future HOFer.

A few days after the break, the card was on its way. I anxiously checked tracking a few times each day. The card arrived on Monday and looks even better in person. Aside from the scarcity of this version, this is a gorgeous looking card. This card has a great photo of Mantle. The design of the card is clean and looks sharp. Also, with this being his last card, Topps lists the stats for each year of his storied career. I am not a Yankees fan, but Mickey Mantle is an iconic player and I’m happy to add this centerpiece card to my collection.

The Warren Spahn Collection

With the sky rocketing prices of current hobby and retail boxes, this is the perfect time to take a closer look at vintage cards. These older cards are full of history. The card designs are iconic and the names are etched in baseball lore. With their careers over, everyone knows who the stars are and which rookies to go after. There’s no need to bet on the futures of unproven prospects.

I’ve been adding a lot of vintage to my collection lately. Currently, I have a few mini collections that I’m working on; graded HOF RCs, a 1960 Topps PSA HOFers set, and a raw HOF collection that I keep in semi rigid holders. I decided to start another. I wanted to focus on a player’s run of cards for his entire career.

Buffalo born, HOF pitcher, Warren Spahn is the ideal choice for this mini collection. Warren Spahn was born in Buffalo, NY in 1921 and attended South Park High School in South Buffalo. He was signed by the Boston Braves in 1940 and was called up in 1942. After the season, he enlisted in the US Army and served four years during WWII.

He saw action during battles in Europe and earned several medals, including the Purple Heart. Following the end of the war, Spahn returned to the Major Leagues in 1946. Spahn would go on to pitch another 20 years, and become the winningest Left handed pitcher in MLB history. He would finish with 363 wins and 2,583 Ks. Spahn was a 17x All Star and would win both the CY Young award and World Series in 1957 with Milwaukee. He also threw two no-hitters in 1960 and 1961 when he was 39 and 40 years old.

I already have a few of his cards in my collection. These include a couple raw cards in semi rigid holders and also a PSA 1960 Topps card in that mini collection. For this run of cards, I plan to acquire cards that are in PSA holders. I like BVG holders as well,

but there are more PSA cards that are available. For this set, I want to put a collection together that has nice eye appeal. I’d like to get cards that have nice corners and edges and are at least mid grades. For some of the earlier cards, I might have to sacrifice condition for cost. For now, I will focus on Topps and Bowman primary releases. Between 1948-65, there were 25 cards made by Topps and Bowman in the main sets. Warren Spahn’s rookie card is the 1948 Bowman card. His 1st main Topps card is the 1952 Topps card. Last weekend I made my first two purchases. I won a couple of auctions on eBay for around the same cost as two retail blaster boxes. I won a 1957 PSA 5 and 1961 PSA 6. Both of these cards have good edges and corner. The centering is a little off which brought the grades down.

This mini collection is going to be a marathon, especially with the early Bowman cards. I have very few cards from Bowman sets from early 50s and I do not have any cards from the 40s. I know that they will be tougher to find. I may pick some of his cards from the odd-ball sets, but they aren’t my focus at this time. I’m looking forward to this journey. Happy Collecting!

The Warren Spahn Collection:

1948 Bowman RC

1949 Bowman

1950 Bowman

1951 Bowman

1952 Bowman

1952 Topps

1953 Bowman

1953 Topps

1954 Topps

1955 Topps

1956 Topps

1957 Topps ✅

1958 Topps

1958 Topps AS

1959 Topps

1959 Topps AS

1960 Topps

1961 Topps ✅

1961 Topps AS

1962 Topps

1962 Topps AS

1962 Topps IA

1963 Topps

1964 Topps

1965 Topps


Hello, my name is Steve and welcome to my latest project.  This is totally different for me Image116and way outside my comfort zone.  I am not a writer, but wanted to create something where I could share with you my small part of the hobby.  Please ignore any typos and incoherent tangents as I type away, two fingers at a time.

I have been a collector since the summer of 1989.  One day, my Mom gave me a couple packs of 1989 Topps baseball cards.  Between the bright photos on cardboard and stale gum, I was hooked.  During my peak childhood years on 10, 11, 12, I collected a lot of baseball cards, and some football and hockey cards.  During those early years, most of my collection came from wax packs.  Whenever I went shopping with my parents, I would buy the odd pack of Topps, Score, Fleer or Donruss (didn’t have any Upper Deck until 1991 for some reason).  I would come home, rip the packs open, eat the stale gum and sort the cards by teams.  I then stored them in one of those plastic boxes and looks like a locker.  A couple of times I remember getting a few factory sets for Christmas; notably 1990 Topps Football, and  1992 Topps baseball.  I collected a lot of cards until the mid 90’s.  By the time I got to High School, I drifted away from the hobby.

After college, I picked up a few packs here and there.  Before I knew it, I was back in.  I was dabbling in a lot of the current hockey and baseball products.  Between rookies and autographs, I was hooked.  However prices kept going up and it got to be too much.  In order to limit my focus, I started to develop a few personal collections.  Then in the last few years, I realized my love for junk wax.  Wax boxes from the late 80’s and early 90’sIMG_5750 can be purchased cheaply and found easily.  My local card shop has a great supply that gets restocked.  These cards, that are 25-30 years old,  are full of nostalgia and could offer hidden gems.   Who needs a Brien Taylor or Todd Van Popple rc?

My current collecting in mostly junk wax and the odd rookie single that I pick up.  I still collect team sets from my teams; Buffalo Sabres, Buffalo Bills, Red Sox and Everton FC (English soccer).  I am big into vintage cards.  I have a few different personal collections revolving around cards from the 1960’s, 70’sand early 80’s.

During the Fall 2016, I began writing TTM letters and sending cards out for autographs.  This has become a large part of my hobby.  Its a great use of the extra junk wax cards that I have.  Plus, who doesn’t love getting mail?

I’m not sure how often I will write, but I hope this blog is interesting to some of you.  I love this hobby and cannot wait to share it with you.  Many have helped me, especially with TTMs, and I would like to pay it forward.  If you ever have any questions or comments, don’t hesitate to contact me.

Here’s to ripping boxes and collecting gum and wax stained cardboard.