Monday, May 30, 2016

T205 Gold Border Eddie Grant. Memorial Day Salute

NOTE: Again on Memorial Day I thought I would reprint the post I made in each of the previous couple of years showing Eddie Grant, the first major league player to die in combat in the service of the United States.

The first major league player to die in the service of his country was Eddie Grant. With a law degree from Harvard he was quite unlike most of his contemporaries. It was said that instead of the usual "I got it!" called out when a player has a bead on a pop-up, Grant would shout "I have it!"

A native of Franklin, Massachusetts, he played 9 seasons of baseball with four different clubs, most notably the Phillies for whom he held down the regular third base job for most of four seasons, 1907 through 1910. Although only a .249 career hitter Grant nonetheless was able to lead the NL in singles in 1909 and 1910 and in hits overall in '09. A better fielder than hitter he finished near the top of several defensive categories when he was a regular.

Grant appeared in the 1913 World Series with the New York Giants as a pinch hitter and pinch runner. He left the game after the 1915 season to open a law practice in Boston.

He enlisted when his country called as we entered World War I in 1917. Wikipedia summarizes his Army service and the details of his death on the battlefield in France in 1918:

Grant was one of the first men to enlist when the United States entered World War I in April 1917, and he served as a Captain in the 77th Infantry Division. During the fierce battle of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, all of Grant's superior officers were killed or wounded, and he took command of his troops on a four-day search for the "Lost Battalion." During the search, an exploding shell killed Grant on October 5, 1918. He was the first Major League Baseball player killed in action in World War I. He was buried at the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery in Lorraine, France.

This New York Times article (opens as a .pdf file) from October 22, 1918 relates the story in full.

I have the Eddie Grant T205 Gold Border (shown above) as well as his T206. The Gold Border cards are just a wonderful set and Grant's is a great portrait I think. Here are a few more pics and details from the life of Captain Eddie Grant found around the 'Net:

Here is the plaque that was installed in the Polo Grounds by the New York Giants to honor him.

It's position in the stadium is visible in this famous shot of Willie Mays' catch in the 1954 World Series. It's on the left under the 483 distance marker.

And finally, Eddie Grant's grave marker in Lorraine, France. R.I.P. and Thanks for making the ultimate sacrifice for freedom, Capt. Grant.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Mars Attacks Occupation

Early last summer I got word that Topps was going to produce a new Mars Attacks set. They were going to do it via a unique avenue to them, as a Kickstarter campaign and it was to be titled Mars Attacks Occupation. That would fall in line with their last re-boot of the MA franchise, MA Invasion from  2012 which was done in a traditional retail fashion. Having been an enthusiastic Mars Attacks fan since the iconic 1962 offering I jumped right on board. They sought $50,000 in pledges and received almost four times that from 525 backers, including me.

I signed on with an $80 level pledge and for that I was to get a hobby box which promised the base set and a limited amount of inserts. As an 'add-on' I ordered a binder. As time went on the Topps KS team posted updates on their progress with the set. They did a nice job of keeping us informed. There were delays for sure. The originally promised goal of a late 2015 delivery went by the boards but what they posted made the backers (or at least me) both anxious for the finished product and grateful that they took their time.

It seemed like other every update brought word of a new aspect to the set and what we had originally signed on for was going to be exceeded, and by a lot. A couple of weeks ago the set was finished and shipping began. I got my package last week and it went way beyond what I expected. 

The first surprise came when I opened the large cardboard box my shipment came in. Topps had included a signed/numbered 11x14 print of the #1 card artwork. I have since looked back and saw that they announced this bonus along the way but I had missed it so finding it with my shipment was cool. I took a picture of it because it's too big to scan. 

The hobby box yielded a complete base set, some dupes and a bunch of great chase/insert cards. The card at the top and the one below are from the base cards.

Here are a few from various subsets within the base set of 81 cards. 

There are two parallel sets a foil version of the 81 base cards and the Heritage set which consists of the first 45 base cards done in the style of the original '62 Mars Attacks set. This is by far my favorite. I received about 9 of these in my hobby box and have been able to add 17 more via eBay. With the limited number produced it's going to be tough to finish this parallel set off but it's something I'm going to slowly chip away at.

Here are the base and Heritage versions of card #41:

Among the bonus subsets there are two woodcut insert sets of four cards each. They were done on an old-fashion platen press and are much nicer in hand than the scan shows. They are printed on a sturdy, almost canvas-like stock and the printing is unlike any other cards I have. They have a gimmicky aspect in that the Dinosaurs Attack have dino relics ground up in the ink.....

..and the Mars Attacks group have ground up Mars meteor in them. I don't care about any of that, they are just very cool items. Given the price of the ones available on eBay I won't be chasing any more of these any time soon.

Kind of neat to see how these things were produced. This is from the KS project blog...

A sketch card was promised in my box and this is the one I received. It was done by Miran Kim.

This is the back and you can see that her sig got smeared.

She did 20 sketch cards for the project which she posted on her site. Here they all are:

If that was all I got I'd of been pretty happy. The base cards are terrific, the Heritage version is very cool and the inserts/chase cards were too. But Topps added in more goodies.

I received a printing plate, the black plate of card #8.

Topps reproduced the original 1962 set as metal cards and included them as bonus items. Here is mine:

Mars Attacks Superstars is one of the nine card subsets. Sort of a mashup of MA and sports cards. These are (mostly) done in the style of classic Topps baseball cards. Interesting, but not my favorite part of the set.

I received an oversize 'game card', sort of a box topper. I have no clue as to what it's about but I like the artwork.

Another late add-on was a pack of promo cards. This is my favorite, a promo from a non-sport card show. 

More promo cards included:

There are a few from tie-ins to comics that were produced....

Wacky Packs take-offs. I was never a big fan of Wacky Packs but they included the entire nine card subset.

The backs are puzzle pieces:

Here is another one with the foil version I received as well:

A clever subset is the 'Then and Now' one which compared artwork from the '62 set and this Kickstarter one:

These next two are not sketch cards but rather part of a subset that smapled the various artists that contributed their work:

One aspect of the set is the crossover with the Judge dredd franchise, something I had no clue about. The sketch cards and such that come from the MA?JD mashup seem to be very popular but I'm not much interested except for some of the great artwork I've seen.

This sketch card is my first pickup from the secondary market. The eBay prices for cards/art/chase cards out of the set are all over the board. I see sketch cards going for $19 and others for $299. The same holds true for the various chase cards and subsets. There is a binder variation that was listed twice the first day after the stuff was shipped. One was available for $40, the other for $200. Crazy.

All in all it's a great product and that seems to be the consensus of opinion based on those backers who have posted on the FB group and the KS blog. Looking back I wish I had ponied up and pledged at a higher level but maybe it's a good thing that I didn't I'm currently bidding on a bunch of stuff from the set on eBay and I'm using the money I was saving for my upcoming Chicago trip. Oh well, we all have priorities.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Rangers from Jedi Jeff

The other half of 2x3 Heroes' Jedi Jeff's envelope contained New York Rangers. Their "effort" in this year's playoffs reminded me of some teachers I know at this time of the year....'Let's get this over with so we can go do summer stuff'. Golf does have it's charms I guess.

Anyway these cards from Jeff remind me of better times. Mike Richter up there is a Stanley Cup winning goalie. I like typing that. And Mark Messier...well when he was on the ice you knew there was one guy out there who would do whatever it took to win.

Remember when hockey players didn't wear helmets? I do. Heck I remember playing without a helmet. Crazy.

When I think 'Wayne Gretzky' I never think 'Rangers'. And that puzzles me because he was with NYR for three seasons. You know what else I never think...'St. Louis Blues'. He played 18 games with them.

More foil that doesn't scan well. Trust me, these are nice looking cards.

I loved Pat Verbeek, he could score. But if you believe in the +/- thing his numbers don't look that good.

I was sick when the Rangers dealt Carl Hagelin. One of those salary cap kind of things. And I was sicker still when I watched him the other night skating for the Pens. I kind of hope he gets his mane on the Cup...then again, maybe not.

Martin St. Louis' tenure with NYR was short but sweet. And buying his jersey taught me to never again buy a player specific piece of clothing, especially one as pricey as a hockey sweater.

Brian Leetch...good times.

Rick Nash....poof..a disappearing act. But SP has some really nice cards, no?

Zoook! He's like Messier, always doing all he can.

These are really sweet hockey cards. I really appreciate them Jeff. Wish I had a team I could root for because I miss watching Cup playoff games.