Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Gifts from the garage sale gods

Baseball cards were barely at the back of my mind when I woke up last Saturday.

I'd just finished up with a yet another mammoth filing session the night before and, much to my delight, was able to bask in the glory of a clear desk.

But then my mom had to go and ruin it by telling me about a garage sale happening around town. It was a mere ten-minute drive away, and, most importantly, listed baseball cards in the Craigslist ad.

The address sounded vaguely familiar when she mentioned it, but I couldn't figure out why. It wasn't until we turned down an open alley that it hit me.

I've been here before.

It was the same guy that hosted a rather remarkable garage sale about a year ago. Astounding as it might seem, the guy actually remembered me. I guess the kind of cards I buy make an impression with people.

Because I went in November, the big, heaping boxes of singles the guy had on display last year were all football. There were more huge bins scattered around his garage this time, although I told myself not to get my hopes up. A quick peek through one of them, however, instantly put a smile on my face.


I knew what to do from there.

The guy had a good five or six 3200-count boxes spread around the side of his garage. A couple, yes, were football and basketball, but most of them were baseball. I spent a good half-hour digging through the goods.

One thing that grabbed me was the amount of newer brands he had available. Relatively recent sets like Panini Cooperstown are something you'd find at a huge card show, not in some guy's garage.

There aren't many shots of Jackie Robinson as a Kansas City Monarch, so the card at the top of the post was a special find for me.

The spiffy wood-finished insert of "The Peerless Leader", Frank Chance, was another indication that this garage sale would be something special.

We got to talking about the hobby after a while.

As fantastic as the blogs are, it felt great to have an actual, in-person conversation with a fellow collector. That's not something I get the chance to do too often, unfortunately.

Although he told me tales of busting high-end cases of sets like Immaculate and Tribute and other holy names (he had a Clayton Kershaw autograph for sale in the glass case next to the 3200-count boxes), he's a perfectly nice guy.

I learned long ago that just because someone chases after more high-dollar cardboard doesn't automatically make him or her a snob. I have my dime boxes, these people have their Mike Trout autographs.

That said, I was a little hurt by the news of Panini making Cooperstown into an uber-high end brand for 2014. (I can't find a link to the story, but I remember reading about it a couple weeks ago.)

Looks like no more fun Colgan's Chips inserts for me.

Ah, but the madness didn't stop at 2013.

The guy had quite a selection of 2014 brands as well, something I can't say I've ever seen the likes of at a garage sale.

There wasn't a ton of A&G, but I did manage to land a few to my liking. I didn't even realize this Eck was a short-print until I got home later that afternoon.

A sweet find made even sweeter.

This was the only mini I found in the guy's boxes, but it was a doozy.

Granted, the horizontal A&G issues don't exactly translate well into mini form. But this is still a nice little card of young hotshot Jose Fernandez, a guy who I'm sure has a couple Cy Youngs in his future.

And I found it at a garage sale.

I still can't believe it.

No, I haven't come around on the Prizm brand.

I never will.

If they're cheap enough, though, I can't turn down hits to my wide array of player collections. Even if they do come from one of the worst sets in recent memory.

The guy claimed that 2014 Panini Prizm was, and I quote, "a beautiful set" during our conversation. He, like so many other collectors, is disappointed that Panini isn't licensed by MLB, claiming that Prizm would look even better with logos.

Me, I'm not so sure.

I doubt I'd like Prizm much either way.

Same goes for Donruss.

Admittedly, I am starting to come around a tad on these. Not much, but a little. Enough to actually want to say good things about the product.

Donruss made up the bulk of my purchases from the guy's boxes, comprising about a third of what I bought. I'm guessing the guy opened a few boxes (or, dare I say, a case) of the stuff at some point. 

They were mostly Series 1, although there were a few Series 2 singles sprinkled in for good measure. I actually had the Grady Sizemore in my Just Commons cart, seeing as how I doubt there'll be many cards commemorating his short time in Boston this year.

I can't pass that up.

There were cards almost literally strewn around the sides of the guy's garage.

Cards in penny sleeves, cards in toploaders, cards with no protection whatsoever, and not to mention random stacks of whatever sitting atop the 3200-count boxes on display. One of those random stacks, as I found, contained nothing but 2014 Archives.

I still need quite a few of the base cards from the brand, but the inserts were what really caught my fancy.

This Goldschmidt features a '70s Topps hockey design on a baseball card, something I find to be an oddly pleasing combo.

These pay homage to the Glossy All-Star series Topps released throughout the '80s.

Archives put its own personal touch on the idea by including guys from older generations. It's fun to see someone like Sandy Koufax on a design that I so closely associate with the 1980's.

The Nettles was the first part...

...of the Nettles-mania I encountered while digging through the guy's cards.

Archives included Mr. Nettles in quite a few of its insert sets this year, something I noticed the very first time I first started flipping through the checklist back in May.

I'm happy about that, considering I can't remember the last time we've seen anything of Graig Nettles. The cardboard industry has barely made a peep about John Olerud since his retirement, so it was awesome to see him included in this fun Deckle Edge series as well.

The world needs more Oleruds.

This guy's selection knocked out about two-thirds of my Archives base needs.

It also added a new mini-collection hit to my binders with that Zimmerman throwback.

I honestly forgot that Archives even had SPs while I was digging.

Like the A&G Eck, only later did I find out that I'd unwittingly unearthed some coveted short-prints with this trio.

Because most of his cards were grouped by set, the guy didn't have a whole lot of random for random's sake.

These two Dodgers, however, didn't fit in with much else on display. The Nomo was the only '90s card I found, and I've actually been on the hunt for that unlicensed Thome since Signature Stars hit the shelves in 2009.

It's a prime addition to the squad's "Short Term Stops" roster.

One of the other boxes included a selection of obscure late-2000's releases that I never much cared about in the first place.

Think SP Authentic, SPx, pretty much anything with an "X" in the title.

I was instantly interested by the section marked "2006 Topps Update". I opened a lot of packs from this set from my local Target back in the day. Because my collecting methods were a bit different then, however, I probably traded away a lot of cards I'd keep nowadays.

I can't be sure, but I think I had that obnoxiously alliterative Highlights card of the "Big Hurt" at one point. For me, the big highlight of the Updates was that Carlos Pena gold parallel. The guy played all of 18 games with the '06 Red Sox, yet still received a card in the checklist that year.

It's the only card I've ever seen of him with the Sawx, which makes it an instant favorite.

Right next to the '06 Updates came the biggest development of that obscure box.

A budding stack of 2002 Stadium Club.

Regular readers of this blog probably know how big of a Stadium Club nut I am by now. I could collect for the rest of my life and still not discover all the hidden gems the brand has to offer.

Their early 2000-ish releases seem fairly hard to find, which made stumbling upon this stack even sweeter.

This beautiful celebration shot of Brian Giles with the serene PNC Park backdrop spoke to me.

Love at first sight.

The masterpieces just kept on coming.

Double dips. At the wall shots. Plays at the plate.

Even a card of good ol' "Operation Shutdown" himself, Derek Bell.

This one may have been the best of the lot.

Busted bat, no batting gloves, ball inches away from the point of contact. Oh, and all that in horizontal form, by the way.

Cardboard gold.

Everything I've already shown cemented this garage sale as an unquestioned success.

Luckily for me, the garage sale gods still had a few surprises in store.

Yes, what you see here is indeed a '75 Topps MMMMMMMIIIIIIINNNNNIIIIIIII of none other than Mr. Bob Gibson. The last appearance he'd ever make in a Topps checklist.

I saw this one scattered amongst the guy's miscellany sitting on top of a smaller box of football cards. It was priced at five bucks, but I figured I'd at least see what kind of deal the guy was willing to give me (if any) before I made the final decision.

This is a good time to note that all of the singles I'd previously picked out were unpriced. I flirted with floating into semi-uncharted territory, but something about the guy's good nature made me feel like I'd get the insider's deal.

And I did.

After all was said and done, I had about 150 cards in my hands. The guy charged me a grand total of ten bucks for the lot. Yes, that's including the Gibson mini. That, and everything else, for under a dime a pop.

As I went to fish a ten out of my wallet, my eyes started to wander to a few other things I'd missed the first time around.

I don't know how, but I noticed this Jake Taylor "Major League" insert buried under a stack of other penny sleeved cards on top of a random 3200-count box.

He had it priced at four bucks, but accepted the two-dollar offer I made. The guy commended me on my good eye, noting how much of a fan he was of the "Major League" series. Only Eddie Harris stands in the way of my set now.

It was at that moment that I remembered something I'd seen right after I stepped foot in the guy's garage.

I initially let this beautiful '62 Topps Luis Aparicio slide because of the fifteen-dollar price tag.

I couldn't afford it. After a short deal of consideration, however, I figured I could at least ask what the best price he could give me was. Especially considering the deal he gave me on everything else. The answer made my eyes light up.

Five dollars.


Aside from the miscut at the bottom, this gem is in absolutely pristine shape. A far cry from most of the vintage I usually buy. No corner wear. No creases. No nothing.

For five bucks, you can't go wrong.

Between the array of recent singles, the Taylor, and the "Looie", I spent a grand total of seventeen bucks at this garage sale. A small price to pay for such beauty.

I don't know what I did in a past life to be so lucky. Even I'm shocked at my tendency to find cardboard gold in such unexpected places sometimes. All I can do is thank the almighty garage sale gods for their bounty.

Maybe I should offer up some '89 Fleers in tribute.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Tweet tweet

I've been on Twitter for about a month now.

On a personal level, I don't use it much. I've never been much of a social media guy, and I don't make a habit of broadcasting my life every second of the day.

However, Twitter is a godsend for the odd, random card-related thoughts that seem to pop into my head at any given time. Fractured ideas I have that wouldn't fit into a big, official blog post.

That's why I've come to appreciate Twitter over the last month ago. A quick scan, 140 characters, and boom, it's out there.

I've connected with quite a few fellow bloggers on Twitter and chatted with them in ways that the blogs don't really allow. I also had "The Baseball Card Song" post I wrote shared by one of the actual members of the The Baseball Project (Josh Kantor, keyboard player), which was a truly gratifying experience.

And, as it happens, I completed by very first Twitter trade a few weeks ago with a Twitterer (is that right?) with the handle @NYYankeesCardz. As you might guess, I sent him a stack of Yanks in our swap.

When he initially approached me for a trade, he asked what I collect. If you read my blog at all, you might realize how much of a troubling question that is for me. I barely know what I collect, so how am I supposed to explain it to someone else?

I basically told my fellow Twitterer to send whatever he wanted.

Thankfully, he put together a pretty nice selection for me.

Along with the '72 mini Hamels at the top of this post was a nice stack of 2014 Bowmans. People seem more and more eager to unload these as the years go by. Makes sense, considering I've never heard of anyone trying to build a Bowman base set.

Though the Darvish, Zunino, Fielder, and all the other you see on this page were new player collection hits, my far and away favorite was the Matt Harvey International parallel at the center.

Topps did a fantastic job with those beauties.

The rest of the package was basically a smorgasbord.

Among the goodies were these Topps UK minis, staples of almost every repack I've ever purchased.

I'm probably closing in on a complete set by now.

Also included for no apparent reason was a bundle of '92 Fleer.

It's not the flashiest set in the world, but it still has its high points.

I guess it makes sense that a Yankee fan would want to get rid of as many Mets cards as possible.

The Johnson is yet another hidden gem from '92 Donruss, a set that is slowly starting to win me over. And, although my "Tom Terrific" collection is over 200 cards strong, that awesome Action Packed issue was new to me.

That's another set that doesn't get its fair due.

Maybe I'll tweet about it one of these days.

My favorite card out of this first Twitter swap, however, was this strange shot of Mr. Nolan Ryan himself.

Singles from the All Ryan, All The Time '91 Pacific checklist are about the most common dime box suspects you'll ever find. About 95 percent of my dime digs seem to result in at least a couple cards from the set.

Most of the shots, as you might guess, feature Ryan on the baseball field. Still, Pacific had the odd idea of sprinkling in a few off-the-field images of the harrowing hurler.

Ryan was, from what I've read, an actual cowboy when he wasn't firing 100 MPH fastballs on the ballfield. He raised cattle, ran a farm, the whole nine yards. He's seen here lounging in his cowboy duds, lasso and all.

Not anything I ever thought I'd see the likes of on a baseball card.

Thus ends a historic day in Dime Boxedonia. My first-ever Twitter trade.

I don't know what my tweeting future will bring, but I'm always on the hunt for ways to further express my love for the hobby.

Twitter seems like a perfect place for that.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

The dime box frankenset, Page 31: Numbers 271-279

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

Win -- 1992 Upper Deck #268 Mike Benjamin (11 votes)

Place -- 1978 Topps #267 Doug Ault (9 votes)

Show (tie) -- 1973 Topps #263 George Scott, 1997 Topps #266 Eric Owens (6 votes each)

I tend to think this was a bit of an upset. As perhaps the most "throwback" card ever, Mike Benjamin took down two strong vintage competitors with the Scott and Ault. I myself voted for Ault because of the backstory behind it.

The 35 total votes in this round were the most we've had in the short history of this frankenset. A huge thanks to everyone who made their voices heard last week.

Let's see if we can keep those vote totals going for today's frankenset page.

Unfortunately, I haven't yet found a nominee for card #276 in this frankenset.

As a result, this week's page will only feature eight competitors.

Let's meet them, shall we?

1992 Upper Deck Minors #271 Eduardo Perez

One of the few minor league multiple-exposure shots I've ever seen. 

2014 Topps #272 Carlos Villanueva

Long live the handlebar! 

1973 Topps #273 Chris Speier

A beautiful play at the plate that only '73 Topps could produce. 

1999 Topps #274 Brian Hunter

The stolen base bandit at work. 

1971 Topps #275 Vada Pinson

A fantastic post-play at the play shot with a bonus Thurman Munson cameo. 

1992 Donruss #277 Delino DeShields

An action-packed double dip with another notable cameo, this time from Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Glavine. 

1997 Topps #278 Orlando Merced

I spy everything from hats to programs to tickets in this nice horizontal autograph shot. 

1997 Stadium Club #279 Scott Servais

The intense collision at the plate that we'll probably never see again.

There's your look at this week's nominees. The polls are now on the sidebar.

Happy voting!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

And he helped

Pop culture is a subject that, for whatever reason, has fascinated me for as long as I can remember.

I don't mean to sound all supreme by saying this, but I don't know how many people my age listen to the Velvet Underground or have seen Manhattan. Those areas of pop culture just aren't hot topics among most 22-year-olds.

As cultured as I may think I am, though, I fully realize that I have a lot left to learn.

Daniel of the fantastic blog "It's Like Having My Own Card Shop" recently put out a plea for extra 2014 Topps Opening Day blue parallels. I happily sent him a few of my spares and he was nice enough to send a random package of goodies back my way.

In the note he included, Daniel told me that he found most of the cards he included in a discount bin at his LCS. Among the many gems he sent was this '77 Topps Bake McBride.

McBride (and his massive 'fro) has become a bit of a pop culture phenomenon since his playing days. The fact that I wasn't yet collecting him seemed like blasphemy.

I instantly changed that, putting his beautiful '77 issue in my binders and loading up my Just Commons cart with everything they had of McBride. When I let Daniel know of his much-appreciated inspiration on Twitter, he replied...

So I can say, "It's Shake n' Bake. And I helped."

I was actually angry at myself for not getting the reference.

This young 22-year-old whippersnapper had to go look it up.

I guess one reason I'm so drawn to baseball cards (and especially vintage) is because they're all individual pieces of pop culture.

The Scott is especially memorable, and I honestly don't know how I didn't already own a copy of it before Daniel came along.

The Money, on the other hand, was completely new to me. Last I checked, the Brewers weren't wearing pinstripes in 1973. And that neon-blue cap is a masterpiece in and of itself.

One of the more humorous pieces of pop culture you'll ever find.

I often wonder if we'll be looking back on more modern baseball cards with the same sense of nostalgia in 40 years.

Will starry-eyed collectors be singing the praises of Ryan Klesko and his 2003 UD Victory issue in the future? I like to think so.

I've actually had this card for a long time and never really thought much of it. That is, until I noticed a couple eagle-eyed fellow bloggers point out something that I'd missed this whole time.

Is...that...a bag of fast food in Klesko's hand? Sure looks like it to me.

Daniel suggested that Klesko was holding a KFC bag. That sounded right to me at first. Not too long ago, however, I saw a comment on another post that said the bag is from Del Taco.

We don't have Del Tacos here in the Midwest (as far as I know), but I'm about 95 percent sure that the bag Klesko is holding is in fact from the franchise.

I'm 100 percent certain that this is the first fast food cameo I've ever seen on a baseball card.

These were also among the many terrific randoms Daniel sent.

I understand the premise behind the Soriano. Donruss just wanted him to show off his massive biceps, bro.

The Miller, on the other hand, has me flummoxed. I've looked at it about a dozen times and have absolutely no explanation as to what is going on.

That is, unless he's trying to get into Hogwarts.

The rest of Daniel's batch was devoted to finding as many awesome mini-collection needs as possible.

Pitchers at the plate are great, but horizontal pitchers at the plate are even better.

A couple fantastic new double dips here.

If you haven't figured it out yet, 2003 Upper Deck is a prime place to look for top-notch photography.

UD Fortyman is like the poor man's Topps Total.

The checklists were up in the 900-card range and featured a lot of relievers and backups that often get ignored in this hobby. The main difference was that Fortyman packs cost $2.99, while Total had that more affordable 99-cent price tag.

That aside, Fortyman is still a nice set.

Both of these were new hits to my "autograph" and "broken bat" themes.

Daniel dug up a couple fantastic "play at the plate" and "anthemic" issues with these two.

Gene Larkin is one unhappy camper.

Of all the fantastic mini-collection hits Daniel found, this was by far the most fascinating.

What we have here is a nice "throwback" shot featuring...the Marlins?

I always assumed the Marlins never wore throwbacks. It's not like they have a long history of different jerseys in their arsenal. The mysterious gray uniform Josh Beckett is sporting in this shot certainly didn't come from their teal-green '90s days.

So what's the deal?

A little research quickly took me to a Marlins-Mets game played on July 16th, 2002. The Mets wore throwbacks to honor their 1986 championship squad. That presented a bit of a problem, seeing as how the Florida Marlins didn't exist in 1986.

In order to keep the throwback theme going, however, the jerseys they wore that afternoon honored the 1982 Miami Marlins franchise, which was the Florida State League (single-A) affiliate of the Oakland A's at the time.

A big league squad paying homage to a single-A team.

Now I've seen it all.

Well, not really.

Friday, September 26, 2014


If you think about it, checklists were one of the earliest means of cataloging one's collection.

Kids could fill in little boxes and see that, hey, they only needed Jeff Calhoun and Jim Acker to complete their 1986 Topps set!

The checklist cards themselves, though, really didn't need to be anything special. I'm sure thousands and thousands of people have tossed their nondescript checklists over the years. I'm one of them. I'm not a set builder, so I don't have much use for a baseball card without a picture on it.

I think some companies recognized that and tried to make their checklists at least a little more entertaining. They didn't have to, by any means. It's not like I minded checklists being full of blank boxes and random names because, well, they're checklists.

Nevertheless, I have managed to find my own little niche in the checklist industry.

Checklists today are actually pretty cool.

Almost all the ones you'll find in 2014 Topps feature awesome horizontal photography commemorating a specific milestone. Most are limited to big names (Harper, Puig, Trout, etc.), but that doesn't mean they can't be fun.

And, if we flip it over...

...we get the sacred checklist.

I think Topps slips about five or six different cards from the Highlights series into every set. You'll put together the full 330-card checklist if you manage to track each of them down.

Topps still puts the little blank boxes next to each name, but I doubt anyone still fills them in anymore.

Ain't no way anyone is writing on their cards these days.

It was a different story 50 years ago.

Kids wrote, scribbled on, and generally loved their checklists. The past owner(s) of this '67 Topps checklist evidently had big names like Podres and Brock in their collection. (The only unchecked cards I have from this bunch are Bud Harrelson and Al Downing.)

Cards like these are interesting pieces of history on their own. I don't mind standard Topps vintage that have been written or scrawled on in the past, but checklists are the only time I actually prefer it.
Blank checklists don't have a lot of intrigue.

Plus, to add icing on the cake, this one can double as a neat piece of my Jim Kaat collection.

Like the Kaat, floating heads on checklists are always preferred.

I found this one at the flea market a couple weeks ago and have loved it more and more with each passing day.

The Mick makes this checklist.

Collector's Choice played around with the "checklist milestone" thing back in the '90s.

This one commemorates Eddie Murray's ranking atop the all-time leaderboard in games played at first. The picture itself is memorable, but just look at all the different colors. Yellow, pink, black, green.

Certainly one of the grooviest checklists around.

Donruss stayed fairly low-key in the early '90s.

Because of that, one awesome innovation they introduced to the hobby tends to get overlooked. As far as I can tell, they were the first company to feature action shots on their checklists.

Most of them are miles better than anything in their standard set, which leaves me wondering why Donruss didn't simply make a Mike Bordick card out of this one.

Like anything else, checklists were gimmicked for a short time.

In 2006, Upper Deck short-printed a handful of the checklist cards in their Update series. I speak from experience in say that these things are nearly impossible to find. This Vlad is the only one I've come across in eight years.

That seems kind of counterintuitive to me.

Forgive me, UD, but doesn't short-printing a checklist kind of defeat the purpose of a checklist? How are you supposed to know what you need if you can't find out what's in the set in the first place?

Seems kind of stupid.

I mean...


I guess I can't stay too mad at Upper Deck. The checklists in their 1993 release are some of my all-time favorites.

Turning a picture that includes Barry Bonds and Will Clark into something special isn't easy. But Upper Deck did it.

I don't know how, but they did.

With all the technology out there, I guess there's not a real need for actual cardboard checklists anymore. But yet they still exist. I'm glad they do.

Checklists are another area of the hobby that don't get appreciated as much as they probably should.

There's a whole wide world of them out there.