Wednesday, October 28, 2015

What I learned from my box of Update

As I was kind of expecting, Update managed to bring me out of my temporary blogging hiatus.

I figured I'd grab a handful of packs of Target, post about that, and then pick up the rest of the singles I needed from Just Commons. Sounds easy, but the baseball card gods had another plan in store.

I checked my local Target on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of last week hoping to find some Update, all to no avail. Since I had to work all weekend and thus had no time to make any more Target runs, I said screw it and just ordered a hobby box off Ebay, which -- thanks to some ultra-fast shipping -- arrived this past Monday.

This was the first box of anything I'd opened since 2013 Topps Update, and the sheer box-busting experience reminded me how nice it is to have a steady income and a little bit of extra money to throw around.

It also helped that, by a wide margin, this ended up being the best box of anything I've ever opened (not that I open many boxes, obviously).

I wound up learning a lot from those 36 shiny hobby packs.

I learned that Mike Trout is a darn good baseball player.

(Although I didn't really need a baseball card to tell me that.)

I learned that, like most of what Flagship puts out these days, Update's inserts (for the most part) aren't anything special.

Though early '70s Reggie and Willie Mays as a Met did offer up a couple glimmers of hope.

I learned that Topps has some strange things going on in the collation department.

Each and every one of the dozen gold parallels I pulled from this box were of the horizontal variety.

That's fine with me, because horizontals rule.

I learned that Topps is either lying to me or just trying to unload as many of these buybacks as possible.

According to the back of the pack, the odds of pulling a buyback card are 1:18. That doesn't explain how seven of these fell out of a 36-pack box. (You'll see the other one soon.)

Unless someone is really pining for a '78 Topps Larry Parrish, what am I supposed to do with these?

(Yes, Night Owl, the '75 is already earmarked for you...)

I learned that ALL-STAR CARDS ARE FUN AGAIN!!!!!!!!

No more shots of baseball's best standing around looking like zombies! Now we get tips of the cap, autograph shots, jersey presentations, even selfies! (Selfies on baseball cards = kinda interesting...selfies in real life = dreadful.)


(Although those pillbox hats are still ugly as sin.)

I learned that Todd Frazier is the man.

I learned that sunset cards are alive and well in Update.

I'm glad Dan Haren finished out his career as a Cub.

I learned that rookies can have just as much fun as seasoned vets.

I learned that I have fallen in love with this card for reasons I cannot explain.

I learned that there needs to be more baseball players named Jumbo.

(And whoever chose this photo is a mastermind.)

I learned that, as great as this card is, Tulo looks strange as a Blue Jay.

But even stranger is the sight of Jose Reyes as a Colorado Rockie.

And I learned that I'd forgotten Jeff Francoeur was in the big leagues.

Finally, I learned that, for whatever reason, I have a sneaking suspicion that the baseball card gods blessed this box for me.


1) I pulled a snow camo parallel (numbered to 99 copies) of big time rookie Carlos Correa which will pay for most (if not all) of what I spent on this entire box.

2) The baseball card gods managed to get me excited over a buyback, which I thought was impossible.

Wilbur Wood is one of my favorite players of the '70s, and now I get to add a (semi) new card of his to my binders.

3) The one big hope I had for this box was to pull all three(!) Kris Bryant base cards, because I didn't want to have to buy them for inflated prices on the secondary market.

The baseball card gods took care of that within the first eight packs.

(And I believe that Rookie Debut autograph shot is the first sighting of the new Wrigley Field scoreboards on a baseball card.)

4) I pulled one photo variation short-print, and it just so happened to be a picturesque nighttime shot my favorite current big leaguer.


I'd actually placed a bid on this same card on Ebay before I received this box, because I figured out of all the photo SPs, what are the odds I'd get THIS one?


I'd never been happier to get outbid.

5) Though I still like his High Numbers card better, Pat Venditte -- the switch-pitcher himself -- fell out of the fourth-to-last pack of my box.

I guess the baseball card gods wanted me to sweat that one out.

6) Out of that same pack fell the one card I was really, really, really, really hoping to get out of this box.

I very nearly fell out of the chair I was sitting in when I found out that Pete Gray had a card in this year's Update. It hails from the "Pride and Perseverance" insert set, which honors ballplayers who overcame disabilities to play at the game's highest level.

Among the others I pulled were Jake Peavy (who is legally blind without corrective lenses), Jim Eisenreich (who has Tourette's Syndrome), and Jason Johnson (who is a Type 1 diabetic), but my far and away favorite of the bunch was Pete Gray.

Gray played for one season during the war years (1945) with the St. Louis Browns and hit .218 in 77 games, which is a feat beyond comprehension when you account for the fact that he lost his right arm in a childhood accident.

This is just the second card I own of Mr. Gray, and I can't believe it came from a mainstream Topps checklist. (A couple others from this insert set are in my Just Commons cart as we speak.)

All in all, this is definitely a step up for Update, which, admittedly, had seemed a little stale these past few years.

And I'm not just saying that because I got a box from the stuff of the baseball card gods.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Going dark

It is with much disappointment that I announce the following:

For the first time in its history, "Dime Boxes" will be going dark for an extended period of time. This decision was made for a few reasons.

1) Time. Time. Time. Between a new job and a new semester at school, my free time for blogging has been whittled down to a nearly nonexistent minimum. I wouldn't call my posts long, but they're definitely not short, and they do take a fair amount of time to compose. I simply haven't had time to write the type of posts I enjoy writing as of late.

2) Motivation. Over the past month or so, there have been a few instances I've sat at the computer with the intent of writing a post, only to have nothing spew from my brain into my fingertips. I'm a believer that blogging should never be forced, but that's where I've been headed lately. That was a big red flag.

3) Other general goings-on. With extracurriculars and all, school has become a bigger factor in my life now than it ever has been in the past. I really enjoy my coursework, and have found myself becoming more and more engrossed with it as the semesters have rolled on. Coupling that with the stress/joy of my graduation this coming December has made school into a big chunk of my life.

On top of that, the postseason is well upon us, and, in the rare case I do get some free time, I'd much rather watch a baseball game than craft a blog post, if I'm being honest. Scanning and cropping can be quite tedious, as any blogger will tell you.

So, all things considered, I think it's best that I take a step back and shut down the blog for a little while. I may still check in here and there, but I'll be going dark for at least the near future. It may be two weeks, two months, perhaps longer. I just don't know at this point. Only time will tell.

Keep in mind that this does not mean that I'm taking a break from collecting. Quite the contrary, actually. I currently have the contents of two different Just Commons orders sitting on my living room table waiting to be filed, and, as usual, I'm chomping at the bit for Topps Update to hit the shelves. The collecting motivation has been there, the blogging motivation has not.

I will still be reading and commenting on all the other great blogs out there when I can, and I'll do my best to keep my local postal workers busy with a steady stream of outgoing PWEs to my various blogger buddies.

To close, and I really can't say this enough, I thank everyone who has read this blog in the past. I've met a lot of great people who have dramatically reshaped my understanding of this crazy little baseball card world. It's been nothing short of a blast.

Wait, is this sounding too much like a goodbye? Because I promise you, it's not. It's more of a I'll see you when I see you.

So I'll see you when I see you.

(And...Go Cubs!)

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Off the map

Hey, guess what?

I'm working right now! Which means that, yes, I will probably be missing the bulk of the Pirates-Cubs Wild Card game tonight (if not the entire thing). I don't usually work Wednesdays, but, of course, I just so happen to be doing so this Wednesday, on the day of the most important game the Cubs have played in about eight years.

But as is life. On the bright side of things, it allows me to partake in a little social experiment. I'll be taping tomorrow's game, which means that I'm going to do my darndest to stay off the map to avoid finding out anything about the outcome.

I know it won't be easy, considering I work at the airport and I'll likely be working at a store that's right next to a Chicago Cubs Bar & Grill.

I don't have high hopes, and I'm kind of expecting to fail because of how hard it is to remove oneself from anything relevant in today's technological age.

I'm writing this post the night before because I need a little comfort in the fact that I'll be missing the game I've been looking forward to all year. Baseball cards are, of course, a great source for comfort, because why else would I have this blog?

Opening a shiny new trade package is perhaps the most soothing experience I've come across in this hobby, and it's especially nice when one shows up from a longtime blogger buddy, like Marcus of the terrific blog "All the Way to the Backstop...".

Marcus and I have traded for a long time now, and he always puts together great batches of cardboard. I was especially fond of these hits off of my 2015 want lists. The Machado is a short-print, and the Tulo doesn't look like Tulo because of that strange #14.

The Will Ferrell is another step in my sorry quest to complete his insert set...I'm up to a whopping two now.

Airbrushed throwbacks make my heart hurt, but Jose Abreu cards always make me happy.

When he's not fighting with Jonathan Papelbon, Bryce Harper is appearing on shiny baseball cards.

Which reminds Nationals-Mariners World Series pick isn't looking to good right now.

I will forever be a supporter of shiny baseball cards.

Although I'll be the first to admit that they look a little out of place in a supposed "retro" set like Archives.

Shiny legends are even better.

That spectacular Brooks Robinson is reminding me just how much I miss the wacky liquorfractors of 2011.

My newfound lust for Paulie cards has caused my collection of his to grow by leaps and bounds these past few months.

Marcus added a new Konerko with this nifty A&G insert from a few years back. Paulie hails from Rhode Island, the smallest state in the Union. Other former big-league Rhode Islanders include Nap Lajoie, Rocco Baldelli, and Gabby Hartnett.

And there's your useless piece of trivia for the day.

Marcus knows you can never go wrong with sending me early '90s Stadium Club.

I'm not usually a fan of the backwards-hat look, but Griffey is the obvious exception to that rule.

Either Cal Ripken Jr. enjoys wearing generic trucker hats, or these are both unlicensed oddballs.

I'm leaning towards the latter.

I've found that I get oddly giddy whenever I unearth a new Michael Jordan baseball card.

But not as giddy as I got upon discovering High School Jeets. The sight of it made me laugh out loud as I was digging through this stack of cards from Marcus.

Save for the baseball garb, it looks a lot like my senior yearbook photo...cheesy and expressionless.

This is why I love minor league cards.

Where else would you find strength trainers and mascots together in the same set?

For whatever reason, Seaver and the Goose make for a nice combo when scanned together.

The Seaver is actually a reprint from 2001 Topps, and, despite what I initially thought, I actually don't own a real copy of Tom Terrific's 1978 Topps issue. I was shocked to find out such a thing.

It's on the Dime Box Dozen list as we speak.

Here's where Marcus started to pull out all the stops.

I used to have a disdain for multi-player cards that I honestly can't explain. Sure, they don't exactly cope well with my player-centric organizing method, but that doesn't mean they can't be cool.

Because I think we'd all agree that anything with Harmon Killebrew on it is indeed cool.

It's always a shock when Kellogg's cards fall out of trade packages, and even more of a shock when they feature Hall of Famers.

But that's exactly what we have here with this '74 Bert Blyleven that Marcus was generous enough to throw my way.

Everything Marcus sent was terrific, of course, but I think this one stole the show. Kellogg's has a tendency to do that.

And yet I'm still thinking about the fact that I'll be missing the game tonight. Sigh. Looks like I'll be in constant worry of the game being spoiled from about seven at night to the time I get home around ten.

Of course, I won't care about any of that if the Cubs win.

Monday, October 5, 2015

The dime box frankenset, Page 10: Numbers 82-90

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

Win -- 1995 Pinnacle #79 Charlie Hayes (8 votes)

Place -- 2011 Topps Update #US-74 Henry Blanco (6 votes)

Show -- 1993 Topps #81 Lloyd McClendon (4 votes)

Voting took a nosedive last week, as the 24 total votes were by far the lowest number I've seen in a long time. The polls were close, however, and Charlie Hayes (aka The Masked Man of Colorado) took the crown by a narrow two-tally margin.

I myself voted for Henry Blanco's bird's-eye PATP, but I had a feeling the well-deserving Hayes would win out in the end.

Let's see if we can boost those vote totals a bit this week -- because more votes equals more competition and more fun!

Here's a look at our nine newest nominees.

1998 Upper Deck #82 Jamey Wright

Don't let the straight-faced warm-up hacks fool you...Jamey Wright was a .144 career hitter. 

1995 Pinnacle #83 Milt Thompson

The rare beach ball slam-dunk. 

1998 Fleer Tradition #84 Jason Dickson

Not the greatest bunting form, but that's to be expected from an American League pitcher.

1991 Score #85 Dan Pasqua

1982 Fleer #86 Shooty Babitt

How could Shooty Babitt not make this frankenset? 

 1993 UD Fun Pack #87 Brett Butler

What Paul Bunyan would've used if he played for the Dodgers.

1997 Upper Deck #88 Mike MacFarlane

A violent play at the plate. 

1998 Fleer Tradition #89 Alex Fernandez

Pitchers do actually get on base some of the time, you know. 

1987 Fleer #90 Gary Pettis

We close with Gary Pettis looking...indifferent about just having won a Gold Glove.

The polls are now on the sidebar.

Happy voting!

Friday, October 2, 2015

A day off at the flea market, Pt. 2

This box is ten for a buck.

These are the words I heard when I approached a familiar table at my local flea market this past Sunday, and they came from a vendor who I've bought from each of the three times I've attended this year.

He looks to have cemented himself as a new "regular" card guy at these gatherings...and I think I've cemented myself as a "regular" customer, because it's gotten to the point where he knows my face and gives me a nice Hey, buddy, how are ya? greeting when I walk up to his table.

I've gotten some good deals from him in the past, but his discount boxes usually topped out at four or five-for-a-buck. He's never had a dime box before, and, as you'll see throughout the course of this post, I'd never found anything near the quality of what I purchased from him on Sunday.

As a young Bobby Murcer can attest, I felt very much like a kid in a candy store.

I'll warn you now: this post will feature many, many more pictures than I usually show in a single write-up.

This is for two reasons. 1) I want to convey just how substantial these discount boxes turned out to be. 2) I couldn't bring myself to not show off any of these cards.

The Herman and Bauer you see above are fantastic in their own right...

...but, to my utter surprise, this guy's dime box was about 90 percent vintage.

The majority of them were no-name '70s commons, but, then again, even no-name '70s commons are a treat to dig through. Boxes like this one are a great reminder of all the early '70s greatness I have yet to uncover.

That's especially true with '73 Topps, of course.

I didn't pay much attention to these World Series highlight cards when I was younger, and only now am I realizing how big of a mistake that was.

None other than Reggie Jackson himself is front-and-center on this beautiful shot from the '73 Fall Classic.

I don't go out of my way to track down Senators cards, but, at a dime per, I'll load up on as many as I can.

The Hinton takes its place as one of the oldest cards I've ever scored for an FDR, and those red Senators duds seem to especially pop on the '71 design.

It was at this point that I began to realize that this dime box was going to be something special.

I found this quartet of '72 In-Action cards clumped together in the same stack of cards. Two fabulous behind-the-plate action shots, and two dust-filled double dips.

You don't see vintage of this quality in dime boxes very often.

Here's where things started to border on the absurd.

I picked up Jim Kaat's regular '72 Topps issue in a card show dollar bin not too long ago, and, seeing as how it was a dreaded uber-high number in the set, I thought that was one of the greatest deals ever. Little did I know I'd pick up the In-Action variant from the same set at a tenth of that price. (Kaat's two cards are #s 709-710.)

You don't find high-numbers like these very often anywhere, and I know I've never seen any in a dime box before.

But the magic wasn't even close to being over yet.

I found a good amount of these 1983 ASA oddballs sprinkled throughout the guy's dime box on Sunday. ASA was the umbrella brand for a bunch of smaller 12-card, single-player sets that were featured on this design.

This one, for instance, was the only single I found from the Duke Snider set.

These two are part of the 12-card Willie Mays set, and what a couple of cards they are.

A Stan the Man cameo and a rare shot of the "Say Hey Kid" as a Met...not bad for twenty cents.

Joltin' Joe also received a set of his own from the people at ASA.

I didn't know single cards could withstand such star power.

A couple more from the Yankee Clipper, including a shot of him with brother Dom as San Francisco Seal teammates.

Guess Vince DiMaggio got the shaft on that one.

Rub your eyes if you want, but, yes, that's Joe DiMaggio in an Oakland A's jersey.

It doesn't get talked about much now, but Joltin' Joe enjoyed a brief stint as a coach/vice president with the A's in the late '60s.

This is the first card I've seen of him in the uniform, and I think the sheer oddness of the sight is about to make my brain explode.

All in all, I found more Juan Marichal ASAs than any other single player.

These two horizontals have some pretty impressive cameos, if I do say so myself.

Here's another batch from the Dominican Dandy.

The card in the bottom-right particularly intrigued me, as it features Marichal shaking hands with Walter Alston after his brief two-game stint as a Dodger in 1975. It's the closest I've ever seen to a Dodger card of Juan Marichal, and, for that, I was excited.

Still, I couldn't help but think how cool it would've been to find a card of him actually wearing a Dodger uniform. Oh, well.



I had gone my entire collecting life assuming that no card was ever produced of Juan Marichal as a Dodger, and I thought I was pretty safe in that assumption given how short his tenure in Los Angeles was.

But, now, with my own two eyes, I am seeing a card of Juan Marichal as a Dodger. I own it. It will go in my Dodger binder. A card of Juan Marichal will go in my Dodger binder. A card of Juan Marichal will go in my Dodger binder.

It sounds so wrong, yet so right.

And that was just the dime box.

The guy had a 3/$1 bin off to the side as well, though the cards in it only filled about half of a single row in an 800-count box. But I'll be darned if he didn't make those count.

A lot of what was in there seemed to be held in shrinkwrap.

That's because almost all of what I found in there was comprised of smaller, never-before-opened oddball sets.

These Griffeys aren't particularly exciting, and they're not very well-designed. But, heck, at 3/$1, I didn't have to think twice about tossing them into my purchase pile.

Oh, and that's 3/$1 on the whole set, which means that each individual card here cost about three cents per.

Yep, each of these Front Row sets came from the 3/$1 bin as well, which amounts to about seven cents a pop for each individual card.

I bought a couple of these for a buck a piece during one of my earlier trips to the flea market this year, but I guess these were the ones the guy couldn't unload at that price.

Once they got downgraded to the 3/$1 box, the rest was history.

These were also in the 3/$1 archives, though I'm not quite sure what set them apart from the DiMaggios and Mayses I found in the dime box.

But, hey, 33 cents each is still a heck of a deal, I think.

The final feature of this guy's table was a glass case with specially-marked cards off to the side, and the ASA train wasn't quite at the station yet.

For a buck a piece, I scored not one...

...but two cards from the Willie Mays set with Roberto Clemente cameos.

And let's not ignore the appearance of Hammerin' Hank here, either.

I admit, I'm usually a little intimidated by glass cases.

They always seem to house cards I could never dream of owning in a million years. But, in a nutshell, I guess that's one of things I enjoy about the flea market. Even the "glass case" cards are attainable.

The '69 Brock was three bucks, and the Killebrew was five. Both fit well within the day's budget, and, as an added bonus, I now own each of Killer's final eight Topps cards (1968-75).

Before Sunday, only his semi-high number '71 Topps issue (#550) had stood in the way.

Now we're getting into the Pinch me, I'm dreaming moments from the glass case chronicles.

I don't know how to describe my reaction when I saw this '58 Musial All-Star with a two-dollar price tag on it, and I really don't know how to describe my reaction when the guy cut that price in half.

The sentence I'm about to type may seem like a lie, but it's the absolute truth: I purchased a 1958 Topps Stan Musial for a dollar.

Cross my heart, hope to die.

Right about now, I was ready to total up my purchases.

I had around twenty-five bucks' worth of cards in my stack (including a lot more I didn't show here), but the guy only quoted me twenty for the lot. At this point, I figured I was playing with a few extra dollars in house money, and my eyes fell to this 1967 Topps Tony Perez in the glass case.

It was love at first sight. This is one of the most elegant cards from the '67 checklist (dig the name-under-number jersey vests), and one of the better cards I've seen from the 1960s as a whole, for that matter.

Trouble is, it's a semi-high number and a short-print, which means its not a card you find up for grabs very often. I'd never seen a copy in the flesh until Sunday. It had a ten-dollar price tag on it. I asked the guy if he'd take five, and, to my pleasant surprise, he accepted. I handed the vendor twenty-five dollars and thanked him for the flea market dig of a lifetime.

Another glass case card caught my eye as I was walking away, but I figured I'd leave it behind for another day.

But then I got to thinking about it more and more...

...and, a short while later, I came back for Mr. Kaline.

This one was also priced at ten dollars, and, like the Perez, the guy took five on it. It's another high-number toughie from the early '70s (#600), and, though I'm no stickler for condition, I couldn't help but notice the immaculate shape this particular copy was in.

Before Sunday, this was one of those long-wanted cards that I'm sure most collectors have. One of the need-to-have-it-but-can-never-find-one-for-the-right-price cards.

Five dollars, my friends, is the right price for me.

You'd be hard-pressed to come away from an entire card show with a haul as great as this one, and I found all these from a single table at my local flea market. It's true.

There goes the flea market blowing my mind all over again.