Saturday, July 28, 2012

Pipe dreams

The first thing that drew me to dime boxes as a kid was the price.

Baseball cards don't get much more "bargain-basement" than a meager ten cents. I've found nickel boxes on a couple rare occasions, but a dime about the cheapest you'll find, in most cases.

For now, I'm happy with my modest baseball card budget. Sure, I proceed to go wild with a couple months' savings at the two or three card shows I attend each year.

Outside of those, I don't spend much on the hobby. There's the occasional blaster or loose packs when an intriguing new set comes out. Plus, there's the cost of mailing trade packages out to fellow collectors.

That's not to say that I haven't imagined what it would be like to be a rich man in this hobby.

I'm sure we all have.

Currently, I have a ton of little "projects" that I'm chasing, whether it's cards for my "Cardboard Masterpieces" collection or some "Short Term Stops" cards.

I've often thought about what type of "project" I'd chase if money wasn't a factor. After conferring with my dad on this topic, it turns out that we both have the same answer.

A complete team set of the 1919 Chicago White Sox, with an emphasis on the infamous eight "Black Sox".

At least one other collector has had both the interest and funds to develop this very collection. (Excuse me for a moment while I wipe the drool off my chin.)

While it will most likely stay a pipe dream of mine in the future, I'll never stop hoping.

For my present dime box budget, I've set my sights on simply acquiring at least one recent issue of each of the "Eight Men Out".

The main pitcher involved in the fix was Eddie Cicotte, who won 29 games in 1919.

The above card of his is easily one of the best reprints in my collection.

The two "ringleaders" of the fix were first baseman Chick Gandil and shortstop Swede Risberg.

Pacific released an "Eight Men Out" set to correspond with the movie's release in 1988. (Just another reason to love Pacific.)

The Sandlot aside, I still rank Eight Men Out as my favorite baseball movie. While there are some factual flaws, the main story is still a fantastic re-telling of the actual events that took place between the 1919 and 1920 seasons.

The set was a great place to start in my "quest" of obtaining a card of all eight "Black Sox". While I don't own as much from the set as I'd like, there's still some great pieces in my collection.

The other set that has gone a long way in helping towards my mini-project is Conlon Collection.

As if it couldn't have gotten any better, Conlon decided to include a "Black Sox Scandal" subset in their 1994 release.

I managed to find the entire series from a guy online, who was selling them for a dime a piece. It's still one of the better buys of my collecting career.

Buck Weaver famously denied ever taking part in the fix. He was banned because he knew of the conspiracy, but failed to tell anyone about it.

Seven of the eight "Black Sox" were regular players on the team. The one who wasn't was utility infielder Fred McMullin. He overheard other teammates discussing the fix, at which point they were forced to let him in.

Although he only had two at-bats in the 1919 World Series, he played a bigger role in the games than most people might think. He scouted the opposing Cincinnati Reds before the series started, quite possibly relaying false information to his White Sox teammates that weren't involved in the scheme.

Because of the fact that he wasn't a regular player, I didn't think there'd be any tobacco-era cards of McMullin.

Best I can tell, there's only one, from the 1915 Zeenuts set.

Sure to be a challenge if my pipe dream ever comes to fruition.

I've never heard a good answer as to how "Shoeless" Joe Jackson managed to find his way into a few MLB-licensed sets.

He's even got a game-used bat card in 2001 Legendary Cuts.

While he was easily the most well-known of the "Eight Men Out", banned players aren't licensed by the MLBPA, which should mean that they wouldn't appear in any sets.

It's a mystery.

I easily own the most Jackson cards of any of the "Black Sox", a collection which currently stands at 13 different issues. (Next highest is Mr. Cicotte with four.)

The Pacific issue of Oscar "Happy" Felsch is the only card of his in my collection at the moment.

I can't help but picture Charlie Sheen whenever I think of Felsch, since Sheen played him in the movie.

The only one of the "Black Sox" who I haven't managed to get a card of is pitcher "Lefty" Williams.

I know he's got a base card in the Pacific set, but it hasn't found its way into my grasp yet.

For now, I'll have to "settle" for this awesome shot of the 1919 White Sox pitching staff, once again courtesy of Conlon Collection. (Fittingly, Bill James's nickname was "Big Bill".)

Just one more "dime box quest" for me to chase.

One of my eighth-grade history tests provided the easiest extra credit question I'll ever have to answer in my life.

It read something along the lines of, "What was the 'Black Sox' scandal?"

After providing a watered-down version of what I knew about it, I proceeded to show off a bit by listing the names of each of the eight "Black Sox" on the side of the paper.

When I got the test back a couple days later, I found that I'd gotten the full extra credit, as I had expected. Next to the listing of the eight players, my teacher inscribed, "You are a true fan!"

I guess I am.

Just like we all have our different collections, I'm sure there's varying "pipe dreams" among us as well.

The fantasy of this "true fan" is a "Black Sox" team set. It's the one thing I always wanted, even though it carries a hefty budget.

It's the best way I could ever spend my fictitious money.


Stealing Home said...

eight men out is my favorite baseball movie also. i can watch that one 100 times.

Chuck's Used Cards said...

You may just look into the cards of boxer Abe Attel who was instrumental in coordinating the fix between the bookies and the players. An indirect connection, but part of the story none the less.


Mike said...

Neil Young liked toy trains so much he bought the Lionel company...maybe when you get rich you could buy Topps and have em make any kind of cards you want!.....