Saturday, August 11, 2012

The fruits of my labor

It's true what they say.

The best things in life are free.

Never has that been more true than with baseball cards.

I've already told quite a few tales of all the "free stuff" that the blogosphere has provided me. It's hard to believe that it's all happened within a nine-month span.

But for now, let's go back in time to my pre-blogger days.

As I've mentioned from time to time, I was a member of a few trading forums years before I started this blog. (I still frequent the forums on a semi-regular basis.)

Trades on those types of forums are mostly book value for book value. For years, I had the mindset that it was the only type of trade that mattered.

While I still don't mind those BV-for-BV swaps, the blogosphere has made me come to my senses. It's not the only way to trade. In fact, it's not even the best way.

However, that's not to say that trading forums are bad.

I don't know that I'd still be collecting today had I not been able to make online deals every single day. It's certainly played a large role in the sheer variety of my collection.

And yes, there are still quite a few generous souls on the forums, especially on the one I've been a member of for the last few years.

The old forum I was on provided me with perhaps the greatest card-related gift I could ever receive, but I've still had the good fortune to be on the receiving end of a few generous members of this hobby.

One of them was nice enough to send me this 2009 Topps Heritage Mike Fontenot short-print free of charge. I was ecstatic, because we all know how much of a hassle those dreaded SPs can be.

Fontenot has always been one of my favorites. He's the very definition of the small, "scrappy" type players that I love to watch, and I got to see it every day when he was with the Cubs.

He got himself a World Series ring when the Cubs dealt him to San Francisco in August of 2010, but his career has taken a bit of a sharp turn lately.

The Phillies designated him for assignment last week. I'm hoping another club takes a shot on him, at least with a low-risk minor league deal.

This Heritage short-print is my favorite Fontenot card for a couple reasons. One is the fact that I got it for free, and all.

The other is that I own an exact replica of the blue Cubs jersey Fontenot is wearing on this card. None of my other Fontenot issues have him in that uniform.

I wore the jersey quite a bit during my high school days, and still do.

Every time I did, it seemed like I'd get a question asking who this "Fontenot" guy was.

I may have mentioned it before, but I once won an autograph/jersey card of Cal Ripken Jr., thanks to a contest on one of my trading forums.

Monetarily speaking, it was the best free card I'd ever received, and it couldn't have come at a better time.

I sold it for about seventy bucks, which paid for a few weeks of groceries during my semester living in a dorm a couple years ago.

From strictly a personal view, this Hamilton was an even better contest win for me. I'll always love and respect what Ripken did for the game of baseball, but I would've much rather had the seventy bucks than the auto/jersey card itself.

I've always been a huge Josh Hamilton fan, even during his early days in the Devil Rays' minor league system.

I won this card at the peak of "Hamilton-mania" during his 2010 AL MVP campaign.

At the time, I probably could've sold it for a pretty penny, but the thought never even came into my mind.

The Hamilton autograph was staying with me.

A few years ago, I bought an assorted lot of inserts from a member of the forums.

One of them was some Walt Whitman card from a set I'd never heard of, called "Legendary Americana" from '07 SP Legendary Cuts.

Since I'm a big history fan and didn't have any cards of Whitman, I figured it would be a nice piece to add to my collection.

What I saw when I opened up that mailer floored me.

The card was absolutely beautiful. I couldn't stop looking at it.

After doing a little research, I found that there were 100 cards in the insert set, all individually numbered to 550 copies.

I decided then and there that I'd be chasing the seemingly impossible task of putting the set together.

One of the forum members took up my "cause" at the time, and donated this Jack London one to my quest. It's still the only card of London in my collection.

Two years later, the set is nearing its completion. As it sits, I'm currently at 96 out of the 100 inserts, although it's going to be a challenge to find those last four.

Every little one counts.

Jack London is a good indicator of that.

While my time on the trading forums has been great, I've never met a group of better people than the ones that make up the blogosphere.

It's the way this hobby was meant to be.

Unless you've been hiding under a rock lately, you're probably aware of the recent contest that Mr. Fuji was holding on his blog.

I was just glad to receive something from him in the mail so I could get one of these cool "ads" for his blog.

I'd seem them a few times before, and I'm glad that one has found its way into my hands. It's a great new "piece" for my collection.

Answering all the questions for Fuji's contest and seeing what other bloggers had to say on the various topics would've been enough for me.

I had a blast doing it.

The prize I won was just icing on the cake.

A complete set of 1983 Donruss Hall of Fame heroes.

Not bad for answering a few questions.

Most of my readers probably know how big of a Hall of Fame collector I am. I've picked up a few of these from discount boxes over the years, but I didn't have anything close to a complete set.

I needed about half of the ones Fuji sent me, including this awesome portrait of the two Hall of Fame Waner brothers, Paul and Lloyd.

This is artwork at its best.

The set does a great job of chronicling the entire history of the game of baseball.

It stretches from "dead ball era" icons such as "Pete" Alexander and Cy Young... more recent stars like "Hammerin' Hank" and Clemente.

This set is an absolutely amazing addition to my expansive Hall of Fame collection, definitely one of the better pieces I've added to it in a while.

Thanks for running a terrific contest, Fuji!

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