Having done similar in 2019 and 2020, I’ll use this post to highlight the the top changes and additions to my collection this past year. Entering the year with a very short but pricey want list and prices seemingly going through the roof, I was fully prepared to be shut out. As it turned out I did manage to add a couple biggies and also start some fun new projects.

HANK AARON COLLECTION

The year’s biggest acquisition came in February and was literally the Hank Aaron card I wanted most from my want list. At long last I have the 1960 Lake to Lake Dairy card of the Hammer!

With that addition, my Hank Aaron “Top 50” display case is now complete. Yes, there are still a couple cards I’d love to have like his 1959 Home Run Derby and 1974 Topps Puzzle test issue. However, both are oversized, hence wouldn’t make the display even if I had them.

I also added a few other Hammer cards, mainly League Leaders and these two Laughlin cards. The ASG one is small enough to fit my case, but shoot, which card would I take out?

UPDATE: 😀

DODGER TEAM SETS

Going into the year, the only Dodger team set I was actively working on was the 1911 T205 Gold Borders issue. Ignoring back variations, which I’m never going to touch, there were only two cards missing from my set.

  • Kaiser Wilhelm, whose cards–error or corrected–are short-prints and priced as if the man is Christy Mathewson.
  • Cy Barger, “Partial B” variation

While I still don’t expect to finish the set, I’m happy to have added the Barger.

Some notables about the card, which is less common than the “Full B” Barger.

  • Obviously no relation to Sy Berger of Topps fame, but it is fun that the names are close.
  • E.B. stands for Eros Bolivar, which is a baseball name you don’t see everyday!
  • Though you see both this image and the “Full B” image on other Barger cards as well, I’m still not convinced they depict the same guy. I may have to dig much deeper on this someday.
  • The borders on this particular card are more green than gold. Anson at prewarcards.com has written about this phenomenon and Nick at SABR Baseball Cards may have something coming as well.

Knowing I would not be picking up a Kaiser Wilhelm and having few other attainable cards on my want list, I headed to the National in July with the idea of collecting two other Dodger team sets for little other reason than visual appeal. The first of these was 1934-36 Diamond Stars. I found four of the six cards at the National, added one from eBay the following week, and finally added the surprisingly tough Babich card just last month.

Purists would need to add a second Van Mungo since he appears in the set twice: once at #19 and once more at #102. As the fronts are the same I settled for the single Lingle approach.

The second team set I decided to chase was the 1951 Bowman Brooklyn Dodgers. As the Dodgers headed toward either a tie-breaker or NLDS matchup with each other, I must say I thought many times about these cards not exactly being good luck to have around the house. Nonetheless, I’m now only one card, Pee Wee Reese, short of completing the set. (And of course my Dodgers did just fine against the Giants!)

Any worry about a curse aside, it was fun to collect this set on its 70th anniversary. Am thinking about adding the 1952 cards in 2022.

JOSH GIBSON COLLECTION

Though Josh is batting third in this article, I’ll definitely remember 2021 most of all for the “Summer of Josh.” Working with the Negro Leagues Baseball Marketplace (shout-out Tad Richardson) and Sean Gibson himself, my bud Mr. Shake and I organized a Josh Gibson MVP Card Art tournament that kicked serious ass. Counting ourselves, 75 artists participated, and our Final Four judges included Janet Marie Smith, Howard Bryant, Blake Jamieson, Al Oliver, and many other notable artists, writers, and baseball legends. Here is a video that shows all 75 cards from the tournament.

Naturally, I did more than just help put the tournament together. I also managed to collect about a third of the cards. Here is the bulk of my tournament collection minus some oversized artwork and plus some related cards such as the Project 70 Gibson cards from Efdot and Chuck Styles.

SPECIAL PROJECTS

This section is less about collecting and more about things I did with cards. In addition to the Gibson card art tournament and continuing to raise money for charity with my Heavy J Studios card art, I provided cards for several other special events.

  • Buck Leonard Association Annual Gala
  • Josh Gibson Foundation Annual Gala
  • Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum first ever trading card set
  • Fernandomania art show

I also held two Card Art workshops. One was for friends I’d met through the Blake Jamieson 2020 livestreams, our so called “Stream Team.” The other was for the DC Grays youth baseball team. In both cases I sent kits to the participants and provided instruction online. The prep for these is a TON of work but I still hope to do more of them in 2022.

Pre-cut cards and glitter paper for DC Grays workshop

Here is one of three cards I donated for the Buck Leonard event. I turned an autographed 8 x 10 of Buck into a jumbo 1952 Topps-style glitter card. I say this a lot, but this was one of my favorite cards I’ve ever made. Not a complicated or difficult design, just one that came together nicely.

I sent eight different cards over for the Josh Gibson Foundation fundraiser and ended up winning back my two favorites. (It’s only shilling if you don’t intend to win! Plus all the money went to a great cause.)

The Shoeless Joe set (while supplies last) is amazing, telling the story of Joe’s life and career while also featuring the artwork of 20 amazing artists. I helped the Museum’s executive director, Dan Wallach, in lining up a few of the artists and also in contributing some 1/1 chase cards to the set. Two of the top card artists out there, Mr. Shake and Matthew Burke, also contributed 1/1 cards to go along with these three from me.

The DC Grays workshop was a ton of fun and included coverage from Mark Gray of MLB Bro and Olivia Garvey of ABC7 in Washington, DC. Sean Gibson also joined us for a bit to teach the players and their families about Josh Gibson and the Negro Leagues.

Olivia Garvey with Heavy J Studios card of her dad

CARL HUBBELL COLLECTION

Even as a Dodger lifer, I seem to have a fan-crush on the Giants teams of the 1930s, especially Mel Ott, Bill Terry, and Carl Hubbell. I started the year with only one Hubbell card from his playing career, his 1934-36 Diamond Stars. This year I added three others.

My favorite Hubbell card is his Goudey Sport Kings card, but it’s probably permanently outside my price range at this point.

TOPPS PROJECT 70

The sheer size of this set, planned at 1020 cards, was daunting and the lack of a checklist up front meant collectors couldn’t really plan their approach. For instance, who knew if “all Dodgers” meant 50 cards or 200? (From what we’ve seen so far, 200 may not be far off.)

My plan then was simply to buy the cards I really liked without any larger strategy than that. The only problem was I liked too many. I figured out a few weeks in that I was on pace to spend an impossible amount of money, so I had to cut back pretty hard.

Fortunately, one card I did buy was the Justin Turner by Los Angeles artist Jonas Never. For a guy whose life is pretty damn sweet I was in a very rare funk for a stretch, seriously, and then all of a sudden…

Yep, the freaking 1/1 GOLD! Unbelievable luck and just when I needed it. This card genuinely snapped me right out of my funk. Instant cardboard therapy!

TOP 100

Back in college my roommate and I had bulletin boards where we displayed our best 50 or so cards. My board has since evolved into two 50-card Pennzoni display cases that collectively showcase cards of 100 different players, with cards ranging from 1933-81. This past year I was able to swap a few new cards into my 1933-57 case.

Though I should have done it on my own sooner, the plan by Major League Baseball to recognize Negro League statistics prompted me to add Artie Wilson, Piper Davis, and Luke Easter cards. Another welcome addition was the 1954 Dan-Dee Gil Hodges, which had been calling my name for years.

I placed it in my case right next to my 1954 Bowman Mickey Mantle, strictly due to chronology, only to notice how similar the two images on the cards are to each other.

ON DECK FOR 2022

Though I don’t expect to add any biggies to the collection next year, there are several smaller ambitions to keep me going such as finishing my Hank Aaron league leaders collection or adding some oddballs to my Dwight Gooden collection. I also have a couple sets where I’m one card away: my 1960 Fleer set minus Babe Ruth and the aforementioned 1951 Bowman Dodgers minus Pee Wee. Finally, I think 2022 will also be the year I hit the $25,000 fundraising goal I set for my card art. Feel free to poke around the Heavy J Studios shop or let me know if I can create something just for you.

Happy collecting and thanks for being a part of this fun Hobby!

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