Sunday, May 24, 2015

The dime box frankenset, Page 65: Numbers 577-585

Let's take a look at how last week's frankenset voting turned out.

Win -- 1991 Score #568 Bob Welch (15 votes)

Place -- 1973 Topps #574 Bob Didier (10 votes)

Show -- 1988 Score #571 Jim Walewander (4 votes)

Bob Welch and his horrifying split-finger grip snapped the three-week vintage win streak. He took 15 of the 39 total votes to finish ahead of '73 Topps legend Bob Didier and a slew of other worthy challengers.

This was the toughest frankest decision I've had to make in a while, and I really wanted to throw my hat into the "I've got a bitchin' Camaro" Jim Walewander camp. But, in the end, I ended up siding with the victor.

The utter freakishness of a disembodied hand deserves my vote.

This week's page features a full batch of nine new frankenset hopefuls.

Let's meet them.

 1991 Score #577 Casey Candaele

Mighty Casey has turned the double play.

1991 Upper Deck #578 Mike Morgan

It's hard for pitchers to look menacing with a bat in their hands. 

1990 Upper Deck #579 Bryn Smith

Although it does help if they're actually at the plate. 

2014 Topps #580 Todd Frazier

The beauty of the on-deck circle. 

1992 Topps #581 Stan Javier

Safe or out? 

1988 Fleer #582 Tim Flannery

Let's go surfin' now / Everybody's learning how / Come on and safari with me

1992 Upper Deck #583 Kelly Downs

Another pitcher acting the part of a hitter.

2012 Topps #584 Daric Barton

Slide, Barton, slide! 

2010 Topps #585 Dioner Navarro

My legs hurt just looking at this photo.

That just about does it for this week's frankenset page. The polls are now on the sidebar.

Happy voting!

Friday, May 22, 2015

The baseball card horror movie

I'm not a fan of horror movies.

This is my own personality talking, but I've never seen the upside of getting the you-know-what scared out of me. But, again, that's just me.

Maybe that's part of why I collect baseball cards. Two-by-three-inch pictures of grown men playing a game can't be at all threatening, right? Right?

Bob Welch and his disembodied hand would like to have a word with you. This devilish card genuinely scares me, and, after it appeared as part of this week's frankenset page, I got to thinking in the chilling hours of the night.

What would a baseball card horror movie look like?

I personally see potential for a bloody type of mystery flick.

The plot could revolve around a series of frightful characters. One of these suspects is the culprit behind the gruesome fate of Bob Welch's right hand.

Perhaps another is responsible for the beheading of Ty Cobb.



Which of these cardboard culprits is responsible? Could it have been Jose Lind and his sparkling sword?

He looks like a bloodthirsty Pirate to me.

Or perhaps Jay Buhner and his trusty chainsaw?

That thing can cut through human flesh with a flick of the wrist.

Or maybe it's Rudy Law, whose trusted means of massacre are, well...his bare hands.

Don't look at him the wrong way. In fact, don't even look at him at all. No eye contact. Not even a sideways glance.

He'll find you.

He's been known to get riled up for a lot less.

Like any movie, we need a cast of supporting characters.

Personally, I think any number of Dick Perez's famous '80s Diamond Kings would fit for a number of roles. I know that a lot of collectors gush over these things, but I've never been a huge fan.

Some of them have been known to scare the crap out of me, if I'm being completely honest.

Dave Concepcion is eternally staring into my soul.

These two cards have been sitting in my binders for about a decade now.

Rusty Staub and Jimmy Wynn here were a couple of the first oddballs I picked up (they hail from the Mother's Cookies brand) when I first re-entered the hobby. I thought they were kind of cool at first, but they've entered a slow and steady demise into complete horror with each passing day.

Why is Rusty Staub purple? Why is Jimmy Wynn giving me that sly smile? Why are their different shades of colors on their uniforms? Are those blood stains from innocent victims?

I have to prepare myself whenever I'm perusing through my Astros binder.

They're only a page away.

My mom and I don't often converse about my baseball cards.

I do know that she is absolutely horrified by this particular piece of artwork, if you want to call it that.  She freaked out when I showed it to her a few years back and told me to never let it within her sight again. I agree with Mom.

This, more than perhaps any other card in my collection, really does remind me of a horror movie. I can feel the nightmares starting already. Brooks and his melting face jumping through the window in the middle of the night, blood on his mind.

Geez, can we please get off this topic?

I'm sticking to comedies.

(See what kind of post ideas pop into my head at four in the afternoon?)

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Those crazy readers

Remember when I was listing out all the reasons that readers rule?

Well, you can add another bullet to that list.

15) Wes.

Over the past year or so, a reader named Wes W. has been dropping mammoth boxes onto my doorstep. Keep in mind that this is not the Wes of JBF fame, but actually a different Wes whose card generosity seems to know no bounds. An odd coincidence, I know.

His latest box (and quite possibly his largest yet) arrived right when my end-of-semester craziness was starting to approach at school. These cards were a much needed distraction at the time, and, let me tell you, it certainly made for a few fun days of sorting and organizing.

Let's take inventory of what Wes sent. That's one binder (with pages), a jam-packed box full of cards, and two separate manila envelopes, also brimming with cardboard.

The words I uttered to myself when I first ripped this box open cannot be repeated here.

The sheer volume of material here caught me way off-guard.

But don't let that fool you. This wasn't a quantity-over-quality type of deal. Everything Wes sent was hand-picked and catered towards my collection in one way or another, which is unbelievable considering how much cardboard was in that box.

Like Wes's past mailings, he neatly organized all the cards into a number of distinct categories. There's been a special "Wild Thing" section in the last few boxes he's sent, and this one continued the trend.

Because we all use some Wild Thing in our lives.

When it comes to hitting my mini-collections, Wes might well be the king of them all.

After all was said and done, I think I counted close to a couple hundred new cards for my various themes. Yes, a couple hundred. That's how crazy Wes is.

These two "pitchers at the plate" started the madness.

Here are a couple of the more interesting "at the wall" cards I've come across.

The Snyder grabbed my attention not so much because of the ex-Dodger himself, but because of the white-shirted fan on the right-hand portion of this shot. I'm almost positive that what we're seeing there is a Ramones t-shirt, which is special to me since they're my favorite band. (My dad tells me that the fellow on the left is sporting an R.E.M. shirt, another of my favorite bands.)

The Oliva probably wins the Best Brand Logo Placement on a Baseball Card award.

Although a shot like that doesn't make a whole lot of sense for a third baseman.

Wes notched some new "multiple-exposure" and "bat barrel" cards with this pair.

Although I'm much more infatuated with the desert-esque backdrop on that Durham.

This box added bunch of throwbacks to my collection, but my two favorites were of the Oakland variety.

The Javier (whose other 3-D frame doubles as a "bat barrel" shot) flashes back to the days of the PCL's Oakland Oaks, while the Chavez travels back to the 1901 Philadelphia A's.

Throwback jerseys are like time machines.

Here's where Wes really started to crank up the insanity meter.

The amount of cards he added to my remaining themes were enough to fill up a nine-pocket page. And, in some cases, much, much more.

As you might guess with this action-packed page, plays at the plate were in full force.

Wes went out of his way to beef up my "autograph" mini-collection.

There's something consistently special about seeing ballplayers signing for eager fans.

In the end, my "double dips" mini-collection received the brunt of Wes's attack.

Whether of the vertical...

...or horizontal variety, the double plays seemed to be never-ending.

I scored a grand total of 80 new "double dips" after all was said and done. That's definitely a record for a single trade package. By far.

They say that records were meant to be broken, but I don't know if anyone will ever be able to top that mark.

Perhaps even more amazing is the fact that Wes wasn't quite done yet.

Wes has added little sections entitled "Everything Else" in nearly all the boxes I've received from him over the past year. These are especially exciting to dig through because I'm never quite sure what kind of randomness I'll find inside.

Most of the remaining cards you'll see in this post were classified under the "Everything Else" file, including this in-your-face Tony Clark insert.

I think I speak for most collectors by saying that 3-D cards are almost always a hoot.

They don't scan very well (scanning them sideways is the only way to get a halfway decent result), but they're great for in-person viewing.

Oohs and aahs usually ensue whenever a few fall into my hands.

I've said this more times than I can count, but minor league sets are a goldmine for hidden gems.

This scan alone features a translator (Kohlogi), an early Japanese import, a Pepsi machine, and a funny facial expression.

Maybe minor leaguers really do have the most fun.

Wes satisfied the historian in me with this quartet of presidents.

I don't know whether it was sheer coincidence or not, but these four Commanders in Chief served one after the other from 1901 to 1923.

Although Harding was probably the worst president this country has ever seen.

One of the sections in this box was entirely reserved for oddballs.

I probably don't have to tell you how much of a thrill that was.

Also among the assembly line of goodies were a stack of uncut panels from the 1983 Fleer Stickers series.

I ended up tearing the majority of them apart because I just couldn't help myself. I think they look much better this way.

Besides, they deserve to live a life of their own after having to share the spotlight with someone else for the last thirty-two years.

We return to the full-sized greats with these two.

The '83 Topps Traded issue on the left is one of the few cards you'll find of Gene Tenace's one-year stint with the Pirates. And, although I've never been a huge Diamond King fan, I'm happy to have that Ray Knight.

Those Astros jerseys look especially loud in painted form.

Wes told me that the binder he included in this gargantuan mailer originally held a bunch of '78 Topps singles.

He picked out a few he needed and sent me the rest. In terms of my player collections, I have most of the cards I need from '78 Topps at this point. But, as I've learned over the years, player collections are really only the tip of the iceberg.

I may not collect guys like Gene Richards and Henry Cruz, but I can't ignore exaggerated choke-ups and sweet shades like those.

I ignored team cards for a long time.

Only recently have they entered my collecting radar, and I've slowly tried to make up for lost time in recent months. I needed the majority of the '78 Topps team cards that Wes included, including the iconoclast Cubs and their floating heads.

After looking at this page, I think it's safe to say that the '70s were the best time for uniforms.


That was most definitely a marathon of cardboard. I'm a bit winded after just writing that post, which speaks to the staggering amount of sensory overload that Wes put together for me.

You know, I didn't think it was humanly possible to hit on every single thing I collect, but Wes may have done just that. It goes to show how great the readers of our little community can be.

People like Wes are more than deserving of a big high-five.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Yes, we've got a video

I don't have to tell you that collecting isn't exactly the most well-covered hobby these days.

Sports cards rarely make it into the mainstream media anymore. On the rare occasion that they do crack the newscasts, it's usually some story about either a high-dollar rookie card or the doomed state of the hobby (or something along those lines).

The fun of everyday card collecting isn't something you can succinctly document through a video. A lot of the joy I get out of this hobby is internal and almost impossible to visualize. That said, a few fellow collectors have tried, and have done so to fairly successful results.

I spent the afternoon scrolling through some videos about this hobby that we love so much.

As you might guess, there's been a fair amount of publicity surrounding the famous T206 Honus Wagner.

I'm not a huge ESPN fan, but I have enjoyed their "30 for 30" programs. One of the shorts from the series deals with the history of the Holy Grail of baseball cards. The feature includes interviews from both card collectors (including Keith Olbermann) and those involved with the business end of the hobby (including the head of PSA).

Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of the episode revolves around the controversy regarding the alleged trimming of the T206 Wagner. It's almost inconceivable that a century-old card could still be in such good shape. After watching the short, I'm convinced that it was trimmed at some point.

But I'll let you decide for yourself.

The "gloom and doom" news reports about the hobby are a dime a dozen.

Yes, I know that brick-and-mortar card shops are closing and that there are over 1,200 different Jayson Werth cards in existence and that the hobby is on the downside...what else is new?

One particular report, however, stands out to me because it features a Topps photographer in action. I've never gotten a glimpse of that side of the hobby before. As you might guess, the system does have a very "keep the line moving" feel to it.

You can even see some players, including Werth, flat-out refusing to smile for their photos, which explains his muted demeanor on almost every card I've seen of him.

This next video showcases the inner workings of a little baseball card shop in New York, and it's one of my absolute favorites.

I first stumbled upon it years ago and have probably watched it about a half-dozen times since. It starts out with the owner pricing a '79 Reggie Jackson at five to ten bucks, which surprised me a bit since I picked up my copy for a quarter.

The customers are about what you'd expect. People flicking the packs in hopes of high-dollar cards, people busting boxes and leaving the base cards on the counter, people lamenting the lack of kids in the hobby while dropping $250 on a box of cardboard. Yes, they're all there.

But there's still something innately special about the aura of a friendly little corner card shop that makes this video a must-watch.

(Sadly, I heard the shop closed a few years back.)

All things being equal, working at Topps is pretty much my dream job.

While that may never happen, MLB Network filmed a behind-the-scenes look at Topps HQ back in 2012. More specifically, the segment features scenes from the 2012 Topps Rip Party back when the set was first hitting the shelves. (The surfboards seem like so long ago now.)

Watch the aforementioned Keith Olbermann and MLB Network analyst Greg Amsinger act like kids around these little two-by-three-inch pieces of cardboard.

I always enjoy people wax poetic about their youthful days collecting cards.

Bob Costas did just that after Sy Berger's passing earlier this year, reminiscing about Berger and all the games kids played with their cardboard back during the golden age of the hobby. Part of me wishes I grew up during that time period.

But at least I have a few artifacts from the days when flipping was all the rage.

The National is coming back to Chicago in 2015.

If I can scrape up the necessary funds, I fully plan on attending. The show isn't exactly geared towards collectors such as myself, but it's still a ton of fun. Everyone should hit the National once in their lives if they can manage to do so. It's vintage heaven, among many other things.

But, if not, you can live vicariously through the lives of other video-sharing collectors. One offered a glimpse at last year's National in Cleveland.

The video's only four minutes long, but I still found myself wiping drool from my keyboard.

That said, I have to admit that, at least personally, bigger shows like the National are a bit overhyped.

You can find a similar level of hidden gems at smaller, hotel-type gatherings. (And they don't gouge you with a $20 admission fee like the National does.)

I enjoy the smaller shows because they fit my personality a whole lot better. The rooms are quieter, the people are nicer (for the most part), and there isn't someone trying to sell you something in every other aisle.

This video captures a lot of that. There's still some drool-worthy vintage to be seen, but you'll also catch a glimpse of the more calm, conversational nature of smaller hotel shows. And, hey, there's even a dime box sighting for all you remaining non-believers. Who knows what kind of gems might be hiding in there. Maybe something like this amazing Johnny Damon.

Computer screen or no computer screen, I still get excited when I see a dime box.

I enjoy writing card show posts whenever I get a chance to attend one, but I'll be the first to admit that they can be difficult to compose.

It's hard to bring a third party into your own personal show experience at times. The sights, sounds, and smells (yes, smells) are hard to duplicate.

Maybe I'll film a video of my own the next time I hit a show.

(And, in case you didn't get the reference in the title of this post...)

Monday, May 18, 2015

Feeling bad for the mailmen

One of my friends recently started working for the United States Postal Service.

He's a door-to-door mailman and works around 50 hours a week. He makes decent money, but, boy, does the job take a lot out of him. My other friends and I don't usually see him after around nine or ten at night because of how tiring the work is.

All I can say is that I hope he doesn't have any crazy card collectors on his route, because they can sure create a lot of extra work for all the mailmen and women out there. One such individual is T. J., a man you probably know as The Junior Junkie. The Junkie, as you might remember, recently went on a mailing spree worthy of the Guiness Book of World Records.

I was one of the many lucky recipients.

My gift just so happened to come in the form of a bulky flat-rate box.

It came during a period of about a week or so where three huge boxes arrived on my doorstep (one of which I recently displayed). Like I said, I really hope my friend doesn't isn't forced to deliver to any bloggers, because the workers around my neck of the woods really earn their paychecks.

There were, of course, a fair amount of Griffeys in The Junkie's mailer, but that's pretty much a given. It's like saying they sell burgers at Burger King. Of course there were Griffeys. 

Some of my favorites were the trio of Juniors in the above scans, coming from the oddball-ish 1995 Megacards checklist.

Once the Griffeys were taken care of, The Junkie went to work on my player collections.

My apathy towards jersey cards has been well documented, but I don't want to give off the wrong impression here. I will most certainly take them for my player collections, and I'm glad to have any people choose to bestow onto me. Like this Matt Cain, for instance.

I just don't hold them to the holy status that big money collectors do.

The Junkie stuck to base cards with the rest of the mix.

Because I'm just a base card kind of guy.

My God!

I've been bipped!


That's better.

The Junkie seemed to know that Conlons make for a fast bipping antidote. This is one of a decent number of checklists that feature the photography of Charles Conlon, and, like all the others, it's fantastic.

I'm especially fond of the player diversity that The Junkie included. You've got bigger stars like Lou Gehrig and Jimmie Foxx, but more forgotten names like Dolf Luque and Lefty O'Doul are also represented.

You're always in for a little fun with Conlon.

Here's a couple from the often ignored Topps Collectors' Series checklist.

I still can't get over the sight of Dwight Gooden wearing #64.

A few shiny new 2015 inserts made their way into the pile as well.

I just realized that I'd forgotten what young Josh Beckett looked like up until now.

I've become so used to seeing him as the aging, crafty veteran in recent years.

I feel compelled to defend Golden Age every time I post these cards.

But I won't today.

Enjoy cards of Frank Robinson and the captain of the Titanic in the meantime.

I don't know what to say about these.

There's some kind of bromance going on with that Dennis Martinez, and Troy Penix looks to be getting medical attention for some sort of injury.

As if having a last name like Penix wasn't bad enough.

The blogosphere was where I learned to appreciate both sides of the baseball card.

If you look hard enough, there's a lot of gems to be found on flip sides.

I was hipped to the greatness that is 1999 Fleer Tradition thanks to a recent Just Commons order.

The Junkie added to the fun by throwing in these two beauties, neither of which made it into my shopping cart during that original Just Commons purchase.

Bubble blowing and anthems are always a welcome sight.

I'd say around 95 percent of the packages I receive have some sort of mini-collection action going.

This one continued the trend. I'm not 100 percent sure the Spiers is a double dip (the camera angle makes it tough to tell), but I'll count it as such for the time being. The Galarraga is a surefire autograph shot, although I can't quite tell what card he's signing there.

Might it be time for a little detective work?

No matter how you slice it, The Junkie certainly earned a tip of the cap for this wonderful array of cardboard.

And, while I'm at it, I must say that the mailmen and women of the USPS are most deserving of a tip of the cap as well. 

Especially those unfortunate souls who have to deliver these wacky card-filled boxes to collectors like myself.