Friday, October 26, 2012
From ninjas to tumbleweeds
I still maintain that "discovering" something new is one of the greatest feelings in life.
Given my long-time passion for music, finding a great new band is no small accomplishment to me.
For a long time, I had a tendency to simply re-watch my favorite movies over and over again. While I still do that fairly often, the film class I decided to take this semester has given me some inspiration to go and actually look for new movies to watch. (Fittingly, I unearthed a fantastic piece of cinema last night.)
Of course, there's a tremendous amount of joy to be had in "discovering" a new baseball card as well.
Even though I've probably found thousands of great cards during my time in this hobby, the sheer excitement of it never goes away.
A major source for a lot of my newer "discoveries" has been the blogosphere. Heck, quite a few bloggers have been nice enough to send a few of them my way.
Recently, blogger TTG of "Friars on Cardboard" sent me a few "congrats" cards for this blog's ten-month anniversary.
Although he hasn't blogged much as of late, it's apparent that he's still keeping with his extremely generous ways. He won the first contest I held on this blog, and he's been sending great cards back to me ever since. (If you're reading this, TTG, I'll have some more cards I think you'll like out to you very soon.)
While there were a few terrific new "discoveries" in the cards he sent, this '98 Score Vinny Castilla was my runaway favorite.
Immediately after it popped out of the trade package, I couldn't help but imagine Castilla leading a double life as a ninja.
Hence, I've decided to dub it as the "ninja card".
That semi-odd thought process of mine got me thinking.
Some of my favorite blog posts have come from Night Owl's "Define the Design" series, both from what he has to say on the topic and the other blogger's input on the given designs.
The Castilla inspired me to see what kind of "definition" I could come up with for some of my other single cards, rather than entire sets.
While I could probably go all day with a topic like this, tonight's post will showcase a few I came up with at first glance.
I have to give credit to one of my friends for coming up with the nickname for this one.
He was over at my house one afternoon, an afternoon that happened to take place after one of my many flea market excursions. Because of this, he decided to take a look through all the cardboard that was scattered across the living room table.
When he came across this Earl Weaver, he turned to me and said, "This guy looks like a mad scientist."
The unconventional genius of Weaver, coupled with his extremely unkempt hair on this particular issue made it the absolute perfect "definition" for his '83 Topps manager card.
From that day on, I've called it the "Mad Scientist" card.
Both of these sit right next to each other in my Blue Jays binder.
You have no idea how glad I am about that. I don't think I've ever seen such a rapid year-to-year shift in a player's cards.
When Pinnacle's 1994 set rolled around, Dave Stewart seemed to be as happy as could be, even sporting a cowboy hat for good measure. In terms of sheer comedy, it's one of my favorite cards.
For better or worse, Pinnacle captured a different side of Mr. Stewart in 1995. You'd be hard-pressed to find an angrier player on a baseball card.
For now, I've decided to call these the "Jekyll and Hyde" of baseball cards.
Ben Weber is one of the most obscure guys I collect.
Given how crazy my collection can be sometimes, that's saying something.
For ten years, Weber kicked around the minors and even found himself playing in Taiwan before finally making his big league debut with the Giants in 2000.
My first clear World Series memory was seeing the Angels take the title in 2002, an experience that probably played a large role in my love for the franchise today.
Although he's all but forgotten now, Weber was one of the best relief pitchers on that team. His quirky windup and bespectacled presence on the mound was and will always be awesome to me.
While he has quite a few great cards to his credit, this one is most likely my favorite.
I've always defined it as the "Tumbleweed" card.
Between his Old West-like facial hair and that mountain behind him, I keep expecting to see a tumbleweed pass by Weber any minute.
It's got that kind of aura.
While "mad scientists" and "tumbleweeds" are great, this is probably the best "themed" card I own.
As most baseball fans know, Harvey Haddix was the author of what could be considered the greatest pitching performance in the history of baseball.
In a 1960 contest, Haddix unbelievably pitched 12 perfect innings against the Braves before allowing a homer to slugger Joe Adcock in the 13th. (Officially, Adcock's homer was only counted as a double because passed up Hank Aaron on the basepaths in the process.)
Because of that amazing accomplishment, I've become obsessed with picking up as many Haddix cards as possible. He's one of my single favorite players to collect.
However, his '64 issue might be the greatest Haddix card I own.
Unlike his spectacular '56 Topps card, it doesn't have a terrific action shot or anything. On the surface, it actually looks like a fairly generic piece of vintage cardboard.
As I looked closer and closer, though, I couldn't help but see this...
...and now I can't unsee it.
Every time I admire my '64 Topps Harvey Haddix, I find myself reminded of Alfred E. Neuman, whether I like it or not.
For that reason, it will forever be known as the "Mad Magazine" card.
With a something as great as that, who knows what else is still out there? What other "themed" cards can I find?
There's still tons of gems just waiting to be "discovered". I can't wait until the next one.
After all, that's what keeps me going as a collector.