Sunday, July 22, 2018

The largest family in trading cards

Yesterday we held something called an "All-Family Reunion", where everybody that we are related to- on every side of the family- were invited to get together and have a picnic in the park that we rented. It was a great time- there's very little that can top spending time with family, and we had 56 people show up, ranging in age from 90 to 1 years old. It was truly great.

That prompted me to finally write a post I've been drafting in my head for several years now,  which is a look at the largest family in trading cards.

That is the Earnhardt family in NASCAR, with 16 people getting cards of their own, and three more appearing on cards co-featured with Dale. (The Petty family comes in second, with 8 members getting cards. For NBA, the leader is the Barry family, with 6 people getting cards. I don't know about hockey yet- but I doubt it's more than 16 people!)

It all started with Ralph Earnhardt, who started racing in NASCAR in the very early stages of the sport's history...but his actual beginning in auto racing is clouded by time and poor record keeping. He never really chased the big time- though he does have 51 Grand National starts to his credit (now the Cup series) he preferred to stay close to home and race in the Sportsman division, that would eventually become the Busch series- now the Xfinity series- but, in 1982, NASCAR threw away the records that had been kept- which were not very well kept- and started from scratch. He won several championships including the 1956 Sportsman title. He was one of the first to race and only race- in the early days it was not uncommon for the drivers to have to hold down several jobs to try and find a way to make a living. Ralph Earnhardt raced so much, up to 5 nights per week, that he was able to support his family with just his earnings.
2007 Press Pass Legends #10
Ralph's son Dale would go on to be one of the greatest drivers in auto racing history. 7 Winston Cup championships, (tied for first), 76 wins (8th all-time, 6th at the time of the tragedy), and capable of doing things with his car that most people cannot- other top-level drivers included. After winning the 1979 Winston Cup Rookie of the Year, he backed it up with his first championship in 1980, something not done by anyone else in the history of the sport, winning it all in only their second year. Eventually, his black #3 GM Goodwrench car would become one of the true icons of the sport. (He drove that same basic paint scheme from 1988-2001). He was still winning races when tragedy struck on the final lap of the 2001 Daytona 500. Dale Earnhardt won the first two championships I ever saw, 1993 and 1994, and, while those were the final two he won, it was generally expected that with the right racing luck, he would be capable of winning more. That was not to be, and the sport has not been quite the same since then. I know I'm kind of light on the biography of Dale here, but I figure everybody knows about his accomplishments already.
1999 Press Pass #8
Ralph had other sons besides Dale, who went into NASCAR, but did not get cards of their own, as they chose the crew side. In fact, as far as I know, the only time Danny and Randy ever appear on a card is this painting from the Artist Series from when they were all kids.
Dale Earnhardt : The Artist Series #2
 Danny is still alive,  I would love to see Panini get him to sign for them, or Dale's Mom Martha who is still with us but currently has no cards. They have done well getting people to sign who never have before!  Unfortunately, Randy passed away in 2013.

Dale had 4 children, and three of them went into the racing field.

The eldest, Kerry, had a brief Cup career, and when he drove Dave Marcis' s car at Michigan in 2000, it became the first time in history that a father and two sons took to the track at the same time. Kerry retired after 2009, and now owns a company that builds houses.
2018 Donruss #114 
Dale's second wife was Brenda Gee, and she and Dale had two children. (We'll get back to the Gee family in a little bit). Kelley Earnhardt (Now Earnhardt-Miller) was said to possibly be the best driver of Dale's children, but she did not pursue it as a career. She has, however, stayed very active in racing, currently co-owning JR Motorsports with Dale Jr. and Tony Eury, a very successful team that has won multiple championships in the Busch/Xfinity series, most recently in 2014. Of all the immediate Earnhardt family, Kelley was the hardest to track down a card for. It took me more than 20 years, as she has had only a couple until recent years, when she has singed for Panini. Two of Kelley's husbands have cards as well, which I'll cover below.
1994 Wheels High Gear Day 1 #181
 Dale Earnhardt Jr would become my all-time favorite driver in NASCAR history. I began following his career in 1994, and was thrilled when he finally got to the Cup series full-time in 2000. I actually began watching the Busch series regularly in 1998, specifically because he was racing in it full time. Previously, I only watched it sometimes, but the two years he was running it full time, that's when I began watching it full time. He won the Championship both of those years as well! He moved up to Cup in 2000, and would win 26 races over the next 15 years, ranking 29th all time. (He and his father combine for the second most wins by a family, after the three generations of Pettys with 262, 200 of which from Richard alone) For the first half of his career, he drove for DEI, and the second half for Hendrick Motorsports. Although he never did win a Cup title, I never gave up hoping, and my support never wavered-and never will. He retired at the conclusion of 2017, and is now broadcasting racing on NBC every weekend. He just celebrated the birth of his first child with his wife Amy, perhaps someday they will get cards as well? Only time will tell.
2003 Press Pass Signings- probably my favorite pack pull ever, from a single pack retail purchase!
Dale's fourth child, Taylor, never got a card of her own, though she does appear on several with Dale. It was a regular occurrence to see her in victory lane with her parents throughout the 1990s. Although she has not gone into auto racing, she has gone into a sport with horsepower- equestrian. It's not outside the realm of possibility that she could get a card in that sport...if they ever get any cards.
Dale Earnhardt: The Artist Series #16
The next generation has begun racing, as well. Both of Kerry's sons have taken up racing, and one of Kelley's children has as well. For now, only Jeffrey has gotten cards. Kerry is competing in Cup as much as he can. but lack of funds is limiting him, he's made 7 starts this year, out of a possible 20. We don't really know what he's capable of, as the majority of his career has been in cars that are not competitive no matter who is driving them; he finished 11th at Daytona two weeks ago, his best career finish by far.
2017 Donruss #61

So that's the direct line from Ralph to today...but the family is much more well represented than that.
As noted, Kelley and Dale Jr's mother is Brenda Gee. (no cards exist of her) Her father Robert was in the racing field for many years, among other things being one of the original employees of Hendrick Motorsports, in fact building the engine that Dale Earnhardt drove to win the first ever Busch race in 1982. In the early years of Maxx, they actually gave cards to the crew members who were voted as All-Pro, something I really miss in the world of NASCAR cards, as now we mostly get drivers only; there's far more to the sport than that. Robert Gee got his cards primarily from those All-Pro subsets, Finish Line also included a tribute card to him after he passed away in 1995.
1990 Maxx Glossy #106
While one of Robert's daughters married Dale and had Kelley and Dale Jr, Robert's other daughter Sandra (who I have talked to briefly on Facebook, in one of the NASCAR history groups) had at one point been married to Tony Eury.
1993 Maxx #189
 Tony Eury Sr. was the long-time crew chief for the DEI teams, and his son Tony Eury Jr. also became a crew chief, both of them chiefing for Dale Jr. in Cup at times. Tony Jr. most recently helmed the crew of the Premium Motorsports #7 Chevrolet for Danica Patrick earlier in 2018. Tony Jr. is first cousins with Dale Jr. and Kelley.
2008 Press Pass Speedway #55


Dale's third and final wife was Teresa , nee Houston. She and Dale got married in 1982, and from 1984-01, Dale and Teresa co-owned Dale Earnhardt Inc., which competed in the Busch Series only from 1984-94, then added the Truck series in 1995, and finally moved up to Cup in 1998. After the tragedy of Dale's death, Teresa owned and operated DEI herself until 2009, when it was merged with (bought by) Chip Ganassi racing. DEI won two Truck titles and 4 Busch titles. Teresa got 9 cards of her own in her role as DEI owner/ Dale's wife, as NASCAR has always been about family, including in the cards in the 1990s. I have only one of them.
1991 Traks #186
Teresa's uncle is Tommy Houston, legend of the Busch series, who has many cards from his years competing in the series.
1993 Maxx Premier Series #50
Three of Tommy's sons have cards of their own, but I only have two of them in my collection. (These are Teresa's first cousins)

Andy and Marty went into driving. Marty has one card of his own, but I not only do not have it, I've never even seen it, so I can't share it here. (1992 Bull Ring #184)
Andy found some success in the Truck series, (3 wins) but his tenure in Cup was short lived, as the team ran out of money midway through his Rookie of the Year attempt season, 2001. He is Austin Dillon's spotter in the Cup series today. Austin is, of course, grandson of Richard Childress...who owned Dale's car from 1981 & 1984-01. As I said, NASCAR is all about family.
2001 Press Pass Premium Gold #48
Oldest son Scott went into the crew aspect, and was eventually crew chief for his father in the Busch series. I do not know is he is still involved in the sport, as info on crew chiefs and crew members is nearly impossible to find. The most recent info I can find is that he was crew chief for the #32 Cup car in the last 5 races of 2000- the same team that tried to expand to a second car in 2001 with Andy Houston driving.
1992 Maxx #184
Although Kerry and Dale Jr.'s wives, and Taylor's husband, do not have cards, two of Kelley's husbands do. Her first husband does not have cards, but her second was Jimmy Elledge, who was a long time crew chief in Cup, from 1998-2014. I do not know what he is doing now, but one of his two children with Kelley has taken up racing, perhaps to get a card of her own one day? Again, time will tell.
2000 Press Pass Trackside #52
Kelley has since married L.W. Miller, a former racer. He does have one card, but I do not have it. It's from the 1994 ARCA set, long one of my most wanted sets. I've been looking for years but I've been unable to find it. I wasn't even able to find a picture of it online!

Could you imagine, if all of these folks were still with us, and still getting along, (some of the relationships are, um...strained) the bench racing and the memories that would abound at a family reunion? It would pretty much be the entire history of the sport in one room!

2009 Legends #58

Friday, July 20, 2018

What's YOUR Cardboard Bucketlist?

Recently, I talked about how I've always wanted to get to the National, more properly known as the National Sports Collector's Convention.

As I was typing, it got me to thinking about things I want to do in the hobby, a "Bucketlist", if you will. My list isn't long, but it's not going to be easy to do any of these...which is why I haven't done them already, of course.

  1. Attend the National. It should be the easiest, but it won't be. I went into more detail in "Burnout". 
  2. Convince the card companies to give EVERYONE active in the league at least one card a year. I would have to do some extensive research to figure out when the last time it happened for the NBA was, but I'm going to say it may have been 1991-92. I have zero idea for hockey, because I'm still learning. I don't mean to say that every set should be everybody- stars are stars for a reason- but everybody who gets into the NBA or NHL should get at least one card to commemorate that fact. 
  3. Get cards made for the other sports. There are 6 that get their seasons documented...there are dozens that might occasionally get one or two cards in SI for Kids or Goodwin Champions. That's not good enough...which leads me to number
  4.  Start my own card company. I realize that if I want it done right...I'm going to have to do it myself. I don't have the knowledge, capital or resources to make it happen, though. 
  5. Make my own custom cards. I know Panini really, really does not care about #2. Proof of this: They called a 330 card set in a 525 man league Complete-so again, I need to do it myself. I've started to work on this, but I have no idea how to size things or get them printed...the main and only real goal would be to make a card for the people who don't have a single one ever made. While I mostly am going on about the NBA here, there is actually much more need in NASCAR, which has almost nothing for the first 40 years of the sports' history documented on cardboard. 
  6. This is another I've discussed in the past. I still want to create a Museum and Hall of Fame for trading cards. This hobby has existed for about 140 years, it's more than time to recognize it's history. 
I didn't consider something like "Finish scanning everything and get my sets sorted back together for the first time since 2003" because, with enough time, I'll accomplish that. It's just something that needs time, not something that is challenging...but with how much work is involved, it could very easily be on this list. I estimate that I won't catch up until 2021, but it's probably going to be longer than that, as I still have around 50,000 cards awaiting scans, not even taking into account the stash I have built up for the Card of the Day project.

So what's on YOUR Cardboard Bucketlist? 

Sunday, July 15, 2018

How to Tell a Refractor from a basic Chrome/Finest card

I see this question asked all the time, which, being honest, I don't understand because there is NO way to mistake a Refractor from a base card...unless you've never seen either kind before. I decided to take some pictures and a short video to hopefully help anyone who is having trouble telling the difference. Panini's Prizms and Upper Deck's Rainbows use the same technology.
In the second image and the video, the Refractor is on top, while the standard Chrome card is on the bottom. Note how the light refracts from the Refractor, and just reflects from the Chrome card.


VIDEO on YouTube (in case the embed feature doesn't work)

 the arrows on the right side point to the refraction



When scanned, the Refractor appears to be glowing from within- these are my scans of the exact same cards shown in the images:



And the Refractor:

As you can see, there is a world of difference, and it's impossible to mistake them. Hopefully this will help anyone who is struggling to identify my all-time favorite Parallel concept in cardboard history.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Burnout

There's a lot of burnout going around the hobby, and blogosphere, lately. Sad to say, I'm feeling it too.

I've been thinking about it, and I think the general hobby malaise is due in large part to the cards being produced now. With every sport having an exclusive license, the card companies don't really have to do a good job in representing the sports...as long as they keep paying the league, nobody cares...except collectors, But, you know, we don't count. However....I felt this way a few times in the past. In 2006, it was a contributing factor in my walking away from the NBA for 5 years, something I now consider one of the biggest mistakes of my life. So it may not really be true...it may just be the apparently natural sense of "everything was better in the past" which, based on what I see on a daily basis on facebook, is what everyone feels about everything.

For me personally, there's a few other things that are contributing. The pain...I've been in more pain the past three weeks than I've ever been in my life, and I've been living in pain 24/7/365 for more than a decade. I can't do anything without suffering. That includes sorting cards...one of the few things that I used to be able to do with (almost) no trouble. The medicine that the doctor gave me helps me get through and function, but I can't say I've truly been able to enjoy anything...and I'm not sure if that will ever change.

I need to get used to the fact that this may be "the new normal"...which is a pretty horrible thought.
I've already had to give up almost everything I love due to health reasons. Now I'm facing the very real prospect of not being able to do the one thing that makes me truly happy- my car shows. I've already missed more than 10 in the past 3 weeks due to my health problems. And there's more than that health wise, but I don't really want to talk about it.

And that brings me to another point...which I may have touched on here before, but I've gone on about elsewhere in the past. All my life I've only had one real dream. That dream is to own a classic car, and be able to enter that car in our local car shows. I can remember thinking about this one and only dream as far back as the late 1980s. Yet, instead of making that dream happen, I've spent decades collecting various things- more than 160,000 cards, more than 10,000 diecast car replicas, more models than I can count- literally, I stopped counting when I hit 1000 in 2007, and more...those are just the main hobbies. I can't help but wonder if I've made a huge mistake doing that, and that I should have saved my money for a classic car instead of spending it on one of my many hobbies as soon as I got the chance.

I have these thoughts, but just this week I've bought two Star team bags, 2 packs of cards, and a model, plus a few singles on COMC. I had to mostly give up the diecast collection due to my health problems so it's been a few months since I added anything there. I'm wracked by indecision, constantly unsure if what I'm doing is the right thing to do.

And then there is the thought...what if owning a classic car turns out to NOT be fun? I don't have the physical ability to perform repairs it may need, which could prove to be troublesome. Our Jeep would have been able to be entered in the local show next year, and that's certainly caused me plenty of heartache- with much more to come.

I've been building it up in my head for so long- I can't remember a time when this thought wasn't in my head- that it almost surely can't live up to my expectations.

So what if I stop with my hobbies, and just save up money to get a car. What it if turns out terrible, as anything I try has a tendency to do, then what? Then I've got nothing to show for anything, and nothing to do. What if it's frustrating, and not fun? Yeah, I've got enough cards needing scans that it'll be a few years before I catch up, even if I never got another one. But eventually, I will catch up, and then what?

There's a very real chance I could give up the hobbies that help me get through each day, and the car dream not work out. 

Add in the fact that I think my time to be able to truly enjoy car shows may be nearing an end, (due to the health problems) and I'm just really, really unhappy right now. 

Another thing leading to my burnout...I have spent the last few days working on entering my cards into my Excel charts. I've discussed this before. I scan them, and when they fill up the plastic cases that I have, I sort them by person and enter them into my Excel chart.
For some reason, I'm not enjoying it like I should. This used to be my favorite part of the process but lately it just seems like busywork to fill time, instead of an integral part of the hobby. I put so much effort into these excel charts...yet other than telling me what I have, it serves no real purpose. Nobody besides me ever sees it, other than the few times I've posted screenshots. I've been doing these charts for 15 years now, so why the change? I think it may be my outlook being not particularly happy/good right now, to be honest. Yet, I wouldn't ever think of skipping it. It's too important to mess up, especially now, this far into it. I spend, literally, weeks doing this several times a year, and lately I've just been thinking "what's the point?"

Just so this post isn't totally devoid of photos, here's the contents of the wave of cases sorted by subject, before I sorted them out by subject and typed them in.
 At the time of this typing (1:29 AM Friday into Saturday) I've finished everything except NBA, which I am currently typing in. There's about 4500 cards in this photo.

Another burnout cause- my scanner. It's been driving me nuts lately. Usually, I do a full page of scans, which is 9 standard size cards. Well, now, for the past month or so, it's been putting lines across everything. Usually, when it does that, it goes away after a few days, but this time it hasn't. It's gotten to the point where instead of removing those lines with PhotoScape, which is not hard, just annoying to do, I'm actually just doing 6 cards instead of 9 per scan. (the lines run top to bottom) Timewise, it isn't that much different, it's just frustrating. I've been using this scanner since 2015, and I put them though so much work that it's probably nearing the end of it's useful life. Just a rough estimation, I've made about 20,000 scans on this scanner, just since I got it in 2015. The scanner it replaced- which I still use for some things- lasted three years. The one that IT replaced, which I still use for neons- lasted me three years. Noticing a pattern? It's probably going to be time soon to buy a new one, but I'm going to keep using this one for as long as I can. I don't need to spend the money on a new scanner when this one sort of works.

Yet another cause of the burnout- the National. I really, really thought this would be the year where it would finally happen. It's my 30th anniversary in the hobby, and it's in Cleveland- which means I actually could have gone...if we had any money. I don't think I can handle the ride to Chicago physically, not that I would have any way to get there even if I could-my family won't drive there and I can't drive-and I really, truly loathe the roads in New Jersey. This felt like my last, best chance. Of course, it won't happen. As far as I know it's not returning to Cleveland anytime soon after this, but I could be wrong, as I've not really stayed up on it, as it's just too depressing. Again, I've built this up so long it probably wouldn't have lived up to my expectations, but it's just another disappointment in the same long line of disappointments I've been having in regard to this show, which I've wanted to attend since I found out it existed in the mid/late 90s. It would have been nice to actually get to a card show to celebrate my 30th anniversary in the hobby, and the National at that (I have not been to a card show since 2004 or 2005, I don't even remember anymore). But it would cost almost $1000 just to GET there- let alone be able to do any shopping there. (rental car, hotel and ticket fees). We just can't afford it. Needing a $500+ box of medicine, and it's just one of the medicines you need to stay alive, every week is challenging, to say the least.

To be honest, I didn't expect to actually get there. I don't really have expectations anymore. About almost anything. I've learned that things I look forward to, things I dream about doing...they either outright don't happen, or they turn out to not be what I expected them to be. If something good actually does happen, it's a pleasant surprise, but I just don't look forward to too much anymore. The one exception to that is Lake George. It never, ever disappoints. I just hope that I'll be able to enjoy it, with my mounting health problems that is something I am starting to fear won't be possible.

So what does all this mean?

Probably nothing. I know myself. I know nothing will change, I'll keep doing the same darn thing every day, even if I'm not enjoying it in the least- just like I've been doing for quite a long time now, because what else is there to do?

I'm sorry this came out so whiny. I know there are people with far worse problems than I have, and it makes me feel bad about myself that I'm so worried about hobbies when there are people struggling to survive...actually, I am kind of struggling to survive, but as long I continue to take the medicine I need I will...but I can't help who I am.

I'm not going to stop writing about cards. Cardboard History will continue as if none of this is going on behind the scenes. Once I get back to writing again (besides this post, which I just wrote last night) I plan to work more on the series I have long-neglected. I want the Encyclopedias and Uniform History to be the cornerstones of Cardboard History, and they have none of my personal thoughts or opinions in them as a general rule, other than I will mention if a person is a particular favorite of mine. It's been months since I posted in those series until yesterday and that needs to change.

Friday, July 13, 2018

NASCAR Encyclopedia: Mike Alexander

We come now the first driver to appear in this project.

Mike Alexander
Born: July 31st, 1957
Home: Franklin, Tennessee
Cards produced, according to the Trading Card Database: 6
Cards in my Collection: 5
NASCAR Winston Cup Career: 1980-1990

1991 Maxx Update #85
Mike Alexander is one of many drivers who have been adversely impacted by injury, in his case, it turned out to be career ending. He never ran a full Winston Cup season, although he was supposed to in both 1989 and 1990, injuries robbed him of all but one race in 1989, and the results of the injuries cost him his career after 7 races of 1990; he would never turn another lap in NASCAR. He is very well known in the Nashville area, known for being one of THE drivers to beat on the old Nashville track, in fact, it was his success there that got him noticed and into a Cup car in the first place, making his Cup debut at the track in 1980, at age 22, a rarity at that time to appear in a Cup race that young. His best career Cup finish was 3rd in the 1988 season finale, filling in for another driver whose career ended via injury, Bobby Allison.
Although I have not been able to find any records, he was a multi-time Champion in one of NASCAR's many divisions; while my focus is on the main division- Strictly Stock-Grand National-Winston Cup-Nextel Cup-Sprint Cup- (I usually just call it Cup) NASCAR has dozens of divisions which are almost never covered on cards and can be very hard to find information about...I've spent more than 20 years searching for information and still have large gaps where I have been able to find nothing. His 1989 Maxx card, his first, notes that he was 1983 Winston Touring Series National Champion and 1984 All-American series Champion.

Writer's Note: I wrote this up sometime in 2016, when I was planning to do the NASCAR Encyclopedia person-by-person. I've since decided to restructure it to be more like my NBA Encyclopedia, but instead of discarding or modifying what I had already done, I've chosen to just post it as is. I hope to relaunch the NBA Encyclopedia shortly and post more in the NASCAR Encyclopedia, but I just have not found the time to write any more yet, they are somewhat labor-intensive to create. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Plugged

A card showing a standard, every day electric plug...does it exist? The answer is, of course, yes.
2007 Legends #37 shows Bobby Labonte, 2000 NASCAR Champion, standing in front of a non-desript wall with an electrical plug showing.

I just needed to "plug" a hole when I had nothing better to post, and this seemed as good as anything else. 

Just for kicks, I wrote it up on February 1st, 2017. Let's see how long it takes me to actually post it.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

An NBA Hockey card

One of my favorite inserts of the Panini era is the Courtside set that was in Hoops for several years.
The photography in these is just...spectacular. They are all like this...this one is from the 2013-14 set. This photo was taken at the Staples Center, and take a look at the banners clearly shown in the rafters- they are for the LA Kings hockey team, showing retired numbers on the left and post season awards on the right. The banners on the right are probably a little different now- the Kings would win the Stanley Cup that season also.

The funny thing is, now this matters to me. When the card was issued, it wouldn't have, really. I would not have known who any of the names other than Gretzky were- even before I got into hockey, I knew that name- but now I do. I have cards of all of them as well. Something that- when this card was issued- I had only Gretzky in my Multi-Sport collection.

Luckily, I didn't get this card when it was new. I got it in trade with Trading Card Database member Bevans in June 2018. Now, I was able to appreciate it fully. There's another in the same set that also shows the banners that I got in the same trade:


I really need to be on the lookout for more cards that show cross-sport banners for the two indoor sports I collect. I know I have a Rangers card where Walt Frazier's retired number banner is visible, but I didn't think to make note of which one it was.

I'll make sure to show it when I come across it again. I've created a new tag- Cross-Sport- where I will track these as I come across them in the future.