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A “Mystery Box” from

I received an e-mail from Michael at a couple of weeks ago offering a complimentary “Mystery Box” for review on the blog. In addition to the “Mystery Box,” Michael also wanted to inform me (and for me to inform you) about a pricing tool available at Here is the info:

Additionally, we wanted to let you know about our newly launched pricing tool for collectors that features a massive database of current and completed eBay auction data. It’s a great option for pricing out your sports cards, autographs and memorabilia using real eBay sales data. It’s also helpful for finding great deals. We were originally charging fees for our service, but decided to open it up to all in the hobby for free. We’d greatly appreciate any feedback that you or your readers have on it as we are constantly trying to improve it to make it of maximum use to collectors.

I signed up for an account, and it looks like a great tool for those who use eBay frequently. I encourage you to sign up and check it out as well.

The “Mystery Box” arrived in my mailbox today, and I’d like to share what came inside. Full disclosure: this was a complimentary box, meaning it came at no charge to me. Further, this is an introductory package; there are several different subscriptions available to purchase on

Mystery Box

There was a mixture of different sports inside the box, so I’ll start with a the ones I don’t generally collect. First, basketball:


A nice—nay—spectacular jersey swatch from Andrew Wiggins of the Timberwolves. I honestly know zilch about modern basketball, so I don’t know if this is a great card or not. Several of these items will be offered up as giveaways either here or on Twitter, so keep an eye out to see how you can snag this memorabilia card for your collection if you’re interested.


Next is a pack of 2019 Leaf Draft football cards. This five-card pack contained Anthony Johnson, Darrell Henderson, Marquise Brown, Rodney Anderson, and Hall of Famer Barry Sanders. I generally don’t collect football cards, but Barry Sanders played when I did, so I’m probably going to hang on to that card. The others I will offer up soon as a giveaway.


Moving on to baseball, which is definitely my wheelhouse, we start with a “Verified Vintage” 1976 Topps Pete Rose. A quick check of my wantlists revealed that I did not already have this card, so this box is an automatic winner in my book. Well, it was already a winner since it was free, but including a card that I want? Double winner. I will leave this card in its case for now, but will move it to a binder when I get my basement cleaned up (which I’ve been meaning to do for over a year now).


Next up is a Ty Cobb card, produced by These are “authentic handwriting” cards. Mine is a sample, so does not include the handwriting, but the back of the card reveals that these relics are meant to include snippets of handwritten letters from one of the greatest hitters in the history of baseball. An interesting piece to be sure.


The final card in the box is a jaw-dropper. A Beckett authenticated autograph of late Negro Leaguer Buck Leonard. Leonard was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1972, one of the biggest stars in the Negro Leagues. This card is from the 1978 Grand Slam set. I don’t have an official collection of Negro League cards, but it takes quite a bit to pry one away from me. You add a legend’s signature, and there is no way this is leaving my collection.

This was a great “Mystery Box” from While the subscriptions do not fit my collecting budget, I wouldn’t hesitate to purchase one in the future if that budget was readjusted.

Stay tuned for giveaways of some of the above cards here and on Twitter!

Inventing Baseball Heroes by Amber Roessner (2014)

Inventing Baseball Heroes

Inventing Baseball Heroes
by Amber Roessner
LSU Press, 2014
248 pages

In this age of immediate news, cutural icons do not seem to last very long. As soon as a negative report is published, it is picked up by countless news organizations and available on cell phones and computer screens instantaneously. A century ago, however, news traveled much slower, and the gatekeepers of information were careful with the information entrusted to them; not every scandalous details of an athlete’s private life was broadcast to the masses. It was in this era that Christy Mathewson and Ty Cobb became household names, thanks to sportswriters Grantland Rice, Ring Lardner, and others.

Author and former sportswriter Amber Roessner revisits that simpler time when news was crafted to shed the best possible light on the superstars of the baseball diamond, when Mathewson and Cobb were two of the biggest names, not only in baseball, but in all of America. “They told their readers that real men were expected to take daring risks while at the same time behaving as proper gentlemen.” She examines how the reporters were encouraged to promote the positive aspects of the game and its players to the public, traveling with the team on the team’s dime and socializing with the players on golf courses and vacations. Roessner’s work begins scholarly, but quickly turns conversational and anecdotal as she reveals the relationships between Mathewson, Cobb, and the sportswriters.

Inventing Baseball Heroes is an interesting book that will appeal more to fans of journalism, but also sheds light on how baseball became an American institution at the turn of the twentieth century.

Learn more about LSU Press.

Purchase Inventing Baseball Heroes by Amber Roessner.

Heart of a Tiger: Growing up with My Grandfather, Ty Cobb by Herschel Cobb (2013)

Heart of a Tiger book review

Heart of a Tiger: Growing up with My Grandfather, Ty Cobb
by Herschel Cobb
ECW Press, 2013
220 pages

Baseball fans know Ty Cobb as a hard-nosed, mean-spirited icon of the game. The tales of his exploits, both on the baseball diamond and off the field, are nothing short of legendary. He held numerous records for decades, and is highly regarded for his baseball ability. But to his grandchildren, he was just “Grandaddy.”

Herschel Cobb delivers a different perspective of his grandfather in Heart of a Tiger, recounting several summers which he spent with an old man who happened to be a baseball legend. Herschel had a rough home life; his father (Ty’s son) was emotionally and physically abusive, and his mother was an alcoholic. But Ty was a sensitive, caring man who showed an enormous amount of love for his grandchildren.

Cobb went to great lengths to shield Herschel and his other grandchildren from his fame; the author was twelve years old before he discovered how great Ty had been. The two shared a special relationship, teaching the young Cobb how to trust an adult again after his father had shattered that ability. This is a sensitive, heart-warming memoir that will bring a smile to the reader’s face.

Learn more about ECW Press.

Purchase Heart of a Tiger by Herschel Cobb.

Retired Numbers: Unnumbered

According to Wikipedia, the Tigers have honored Mickey Cochrane, Sam Crawford, Harry Heilmann, Hughie Jennings, George Kell, and Heinie Manush by displaying their names in right field, but B-R‘s page for Detroit shows only Cobb as a pre-numbered honoree.

Chuck Klein, Philadelphia Phillies

Not all of these players are entirely from the “pre-number” era. Klein wore seven different uniform numbers for the Phillies between 1933 and 1944, and none of those numbers for more than three seasons. He did, however, play four seasons prior to the use of uniform numbers.

Christy Mathewson, New York Giants

Pete Alexander, Philadelphia Phillies

Rogers Hornsby, St. Louis Cardinals

Ty Cobb, Detroit Tigers

25 years ago today…

…this guy…

…got a hit off this guy

…to pass this guy…

…on the all-time hits list.

Or so we thought.

According to Ty Cobb’s page, he only had 4,189 hits. Evidently in 1910 Cobb was erroneously credited twice for a 2-for-4 performance. So, if we are to believe (which I am inclined to do), Rose actually passed Cobb’s total on September 8, 1985, in Chicago…not September 11, 1985, in Cincinnati against the Padres.

The record was broken in the first inning when Rose hit a single, his 4,190th career hit, off Cubs pitcher Reggie Patterson (above). Hit #4,191 (originally believed to be the Ty-tying hit) came in the top of the 5th, again a single off Reggie Patterson.

#4,191 (originally thought to be the Ty-tying basehit)

A documentary called 4192: The Crowning of the Hit King was recently produced to commemorate the events of September 11, 1985. It has been shown in select theaters, but I have not seen it yet, and there is no DVD release date. I am interested to see if they address the issue of Cobb’s possibly incorrect hit totals.

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