Pulling for the New Strikeout King

Looking at Stephen Strasburg’s overall performance this year it was above par: 14-11 3.14 ERA you would think the year was OK. However, look at the K’s: 242 in 215 innings beating out Clayton Kershaw at the end of the year.  He only walked 43 batters, too. While the W-L and ERA stats were average, I would think that despite his torn ACL a few years back it can be argued that this young right-hand hurler may be finally catching up to the hype that eluded him in 2010 before his injuries derailed it to become an All-Star pitcher.It will be interesting to watch how well he pitches during this postseason. If the Nationals advance and he pitches well perhaps he may reach innings pitched, which used to be the norm before the specialty relief pitchers made their splash. If he does it will be a monumental achievement for him and probably build his confidence when he enters his 2015 season.

I’ll be rooting for Strasburg. The mystique and mania of collecting his cards pulled me briefly to an industry that is trying to hold onto its popularity with kids and collectors. I still hope Devin Grant has the new holy grail of cards: The 2010 Bowman Strasburg 1/1 Superfractor.

My book: “Chasing Stephen: The story of how the chase for one card shocked the industry” should be released in 2015, five years after the brief hysteria in 2010.

Good luck Stephen. Fans and collectors will be watching.

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Strasburg Superfractor 2010 1/1 – Four Years Later

To think it has now been four years since the excitement and controversy regarding the iconic Stephen Strasburg 1/1 Superfractor. From the initial pulling of the card being offered on ebay for $16,403 to where it is now hopefully — still in the possession of Devin Grant – who was unable to raffle off the card as a fundraiser due to tax issues. It’s okay; the story is still fascinating and lit a spark in an industry that has taken it on the chin for the past twenty years. I have been working on a book for the past four years – although at a snail’s pace, regarding the card which will be titled: Chasing Stephen – How one card helped revive baseball card collecting. Despite losing its luster the hobby still exists — the card store has moved from the brick and mortar store to an online shop.

If you have any questions regarding the card let me know by sending me an email to robsdugout@gmail.com.

I will keep you posted when the book will be published. Have fun busting packs and chasing cards.

Robert – b4bcr

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2010 Topps Bowman Strasburg Superfractor 1/1 iconic card still with Devin Grant

I recently heard from Devin Grant who informed me that he still is holding the iconic 2010 Bowman Stephen Strasburg 1/1 Superfractor. One of the most discussed baseball cards in the last two years is still being held with Mr. Grant who resides in California. He mentioned that he is not yet sure what he is going to do with the card. We will wait and see to see in whose hands if any will have the card passed onto.

It has now been over two years since the card was auctioned on on eBay. On May 29th of 2009 Robert Power, an accountant in Michigan won the auction watched by over 10,000 on eBay for a whopping $16,403, which he later sold to Brian Gray, President of Leaf Trading Cards, in July 2009 for $21,403. Gray eventually repacked the card in the Razor Retro packs which was eventually pulled by Grant and his godson at Peninsula Sports Cards in Northern California.

I have been closely following this story over the last two years and am putting together a book which discusses the history of the card as well as focusing on the state of baseball card collecting in terms of how collecting has changed from a kids endeavor to one that is, in my opinion, part collecting, part investing and part creating a small number of micro entrepreneurs in terms of making a couple of bucks via eBay, Amazon.com or Craigslist as a means of trading, collecting, set building and making some money to pay a bill or two.

I am well aware that the bricks and mortar card shops are suffering right now because of different types of collecting and hobbies for both the young an old. I am also aware that card show attendance has been diminishing year after year and the business of card collecting is dying and left for middle-aged white men. Rather it is very much alive and has moved from traditional convention centers and perhaps Knights of Columbus halls to the Internet. “The card show has moved to eBay,” Brian Gray told me in a phone interview earlier this year. And so it has. In fact, at any given time on eBay alone there are over two million cards up for sale or for auction on eBay. The industry has changed and yes I have seen fathers and sons buy cards together, even if it as Target rather than a candy store.

As I complete the book I am still hoping to speak with Leo Kim about the card and see if has any reflections about it now two years later since he auctioned the card in May 2009. I also hope to find and interview serious collectors and get their take as to what motivates them to passionately collect cards. Stay tuned for book details soon. Take card Robert @ b4bcr



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Mantle, Mays, Gooden,…Harper?

Well it happened. The Washington Nationals brought up their 2010 Number One Pick — Bryce Harper. Harper was not scheduled to arrive to the big leagues this soon, but due to injuries to key players like Ryan Zimmerman the front office decided it was time to call him from their Triple AAA affiliate in Syracuse,

Harper is young. At nineteen years old he is the number one Pre-rated prospect according to Baseball America. He’s a big guy too. At 6 foot 3 and 215 pounds he looked impressive crushing a double against the center field wall in his first game at Dodger Stadium as well as making a great catch colliding against the center field wall.

Despite his age, I’m sure there are some saying that he’s too young; his teammates told him not too press and judging from his first few games he is is just playing ball.

Like Harper, Hall of Famers Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays arrived to the big leagues at the age of nineteen. Though success did not come instantly baseball fans young and old know the mark they both left on America’s Pastime. Dwight Gooden also came up at the age of nineteen and did not have the success of Mays and Mantle however he had a pretty darn good career. He was part of a great 1986 Mets team that won the World Series and also pitched a no-hitter as a New York Yankee against a tough Seattle Mariners team in Yankee Stadium.

I hope Harper does well and rises above any criticism he may encounter because he is young. With Strasburg, Harper and perhaps another future star at first base Tyler Moore coming up the Nats look ready to be contend for the NL East title for many years.

Checking out the Harper and Strasburg cards on eBay. They are selling quite well. Their serial numbered and autographed cards are off the charts in terms of their demand.

Baseball card collecting is very alive and well in my opinion. Like many industries the activity has shifted from a bricks and mortar facility to the Internet. As Brian Gray, the President of Leaf Cards, told me in an interview about the Stephen Strasburg Superfractor card a couple of weeks ago that “the card shows are now on eBay.” Think about it at any given time on the Auction website that there are more than two million “baseball” cards to buy at any given time on eBay. Thus, it makes sense to transfer the card shops to the internet and online auction/retailer sites like eBay.

My book about the story of the 2010 Bowman Stephen Strasburg SuperFractor 1/1 card is coming along well. I talk about the industry and the iconic card as well as about the history of baseball card and collecting. What I’m looking for now are a few hardcore card collectors who would like to talk about their “mancaves” or “womancaves”. If your interested please send me an email at robsdugout@gmail.com. 

I apologize for the lapse in blog posts. Between my job, family life and my book research things got busy. But I hope to post more frequent blog posts as I near the completion of the book. I am projecting the have it done by the end of the year. 

Thanks again to those who have checked out my site. Happy Harper and Strasburg or whatever cards you collect.

Robert at b4bcr






Happy New Year card collectors and Strasburg enthusiasts

I want to wish all who have visited and read from my blog a very Happy New Year. I look forward to adding more blog posts on a more frequent basis.

I do hope that the 2010 Bowman Red Superfractor saga comes to an end. I hope the card ends up in good hands whatever Devin Grant chooses to do with it in 2012. Stay tuned for more details.

In my opinion 2012 should be a good year for baseball and for the country. I am not changing my prediction that Strasburg will be the starting pitcher at the 2011 All Star Game. I think 17 to 20 wins is quite possible for him as well as whiffing 225 batters. We’ll see. Many baseball card enthusiasts can only dream to have skills and talent like Strasburg and Verlander as well as those who pitched in the past like Doc Gooden, David Cone, Steve Carlton, et. al, but only some possess it and should be appreciated.

All the best in 2012 and beyond. I am working on a book about the Strasburg Red Superfractor card and should have it completed by next summer. I’m looking for hard core card collectors to interview for the book in terms of what drives them to collect and their passion to do so. If you know of anyone who wants to be interviewed please let me know at robsdugout@gmail.com.

Be safe in 2012. Dream big and play ball.

Robert – ball4bcr

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A favorite baseball moment of mine recalling a Dwight Gooden story on 60 Minutes in the early 80s.

I got into card collecting when I was six years old. My mom would stuff a few baskets in my Easter baskets every year until I was about ten. Opening packs was fun in my life many years ago and still is today. Collectors today are in my opinion going to collect regardless of age, income, etc. Some are in it for the experience of collecting, making money or both. Others focus on one player expanding their Mancaves. There may be some like me who open packs because of the momentary thrill and excitement who will someday pass them along to their children and watch them open packs perhaps one day. How I continued collecting into my late teens before stopping was a matter of coincidence and remembering one baseball moment.

As I mentioned in the previous paragraph, I assume hard core collectors buy and trade cards for various reasons. For me, it was one moment feeling awestruck that made me appreciate the talent of professional ball players. It wasn’t watching a game at Yankee or Shea Stadium. The feeling I got as a kid going to watch a game at Yankee or Shea Stadium was like no other for me. Green, fresh cut grass, the stands, everything about the atmosphere made me want to be a ball player when I was a kid. But the moment that I recall most was watching a 60 Minutes story in either 1984 or 1985 and viewing a story about a young pitcher for the Mets named Dwight Gooden who was not yet even twenty years old! The story was filmed during the Mets spring training and focused primarily on Gooden. It was when the camera was positioned directly behind Gooden as he wound up and threw a warm up pitch that hit the center of the catchers’ mitt. I was like…wow. I never thought I would see up close a 95 plus mile per hour pitch but there it was and that moment has stuck with me til this day. He released it with such ease and can only imagine what it must have been like to face him when he was so dominant in 1985. I know Gooden has had continuous drug problems and has been in and out of rehab several times. It’s a shame but those early years were amazing to me and how talented he truly was. I remember the Daily News projecting his annual stats for the next twenty years after he was selected as the Cy Young Award winner in 1985 and when he was going to win 300 games. The pressure must have been enormous for him – or for anybody with all the potential for greatness. I wish him much success in rehab and that he gets through this. It’s more important than all the success he had as a pitcher.

In sum, all it took was that spring training pitch by Gooden to make me a fan of the game and to collect cards. I hope Stephen Strasburg has a great career and if he doesn’t win 300 or even 100 games I will enjoy the fantastic moments he brings to baseball — a truly great sport to play, watch and read about. Baseball and card collecting has a very rich history full of stories that makes me appreciate baseball and card collecting a lot more.

That’s it for now. Thanks for reading. Robert at b4bcr

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Strasburg getting help in the rotation…Nats working on bulking up staff

According to a news article written today on http://www.mlb.com by Bill Ladson: Nationals seek final pieces at Winter Meetings the Nationals are looking into getting some veteran arms to solidify the rotation in 2012. Names mentioned include Mark Buehrle. They have also expressed interest in Roy Oswalt. It should be interesting who will be added and where Strasburg will be in the rotation. Will he be the ace starting opening day in 2012? The Natiionals have a lot of young talent in the majors like Danny Espinosa and Ian Desmond and in the farm system with Bryce Harper making a splash with a serious demand for his cardboard. The Nats will probably be at the top of the pack in the National League within three years in my opinion.

Still holding onto my Strasburg cards. Trying to contact Leo Kim, the original Strasburg Superfractor 1/1 card holder. Hope to speak with him before the end of the year as I work on the book I’m writing about the Strasburg Red Superfractor card that created such a stir in 2010 that sold originally on ebay on 5/29/10 for $16,403.

I’ll keep you posted when I come across any Nationals developments during the winter on trades, free agents, rookies, etc. If anyone knows Leo Kim please let me know how I can contact him for an interview.

That’s it for now. Have a good one and Happy collecting.

Robert at b4bcr.

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