Welcome to yet another installment of my "Top 100".
We're at the halfway mark.
There's no turning back now.
We'll be getting into some serious cardboard awesomeness from here on out.
I'd like to take this time to thank all of my readers who have stuck through the first half of these "countdown" posts.
They've been among my favorites to write over the last couple months, and I'm glad that a few of you out there have enjoyed my take on the 100 greatest "modern" cards of all-time.
I'm already looking forward to creating my vintage "Top 100" in the future.
While I've got you here, I'd also like to note that this will likely be my last post until after Christmas.
For the first time in this blog's history, I'll be going two straight days without blogging.
Hopefully I'll manage.
Because of that, I'd just like to take this opportunity to wish all of you a very merry Christmas!
May your stockings be filled with cardboard goodness.
I'll be back on the 26th to show off all my holiday "loot". Although I have a feeling I'm going to need multiple posts for that.
For now, though, let's take a look at the next ten cards on my "Top 100" list.
#50 -- 1994 Upper Deck Ken Burns Baseball #66 Bill Mazeroski
One of my winter break "resolutions" was to go back and re-watch the entire Ken Burns' Baseball series.
I haven't quite fulfilled that one yet. The ten two-hour installments make for quite the journey.
Despite its gargantuan length, though, I still rate it as the best baseball documentary ever made. It's not really much of a contest in my eyes.
Most baseball fans have at least heard of the series.
However, I'm not quite sure many fans or collectors know that a specially-made set was created to accompany its release.
Fittingly, my parents got me the complete 80-card box set as a Christmas gift back when I was still in my pre-teen years.
While there are certainly a slew of terrific pieces within the set, I'd have to rank this one of "Maz" as my absolute favorite.
I have dozens of cards commemorating Mazeroski's World Series-winning homer in 1960, but none of them are nearly as striking as this one.
These black-and-white landscape shots are simply staggering.
The giant scoreboard lurking in the background really ties this one together. The clock even allows the collector to see the exact time at which the homer was hit.
This is baseball, in every sense of the word.
#49 -- 1999 Ultimate Victory #133 Jim Morris SP RC
I still rate this as one of my all-time greatest dime box finds.
Although the scan may leave something to be desired, there's a lot to love about it.
First of all, short-printed rookies aren't all that common when it comes to dime boxes. This is one of just a handful I've found in my collecting career.
However, the real reason this card made the "Top 100" is because it features the subject of one of the most inspirational stories in baseball history.
It's all chronicled in "The Rookie", one of my personal favorite baseball movies.
After battling arm injuries during his 1980's minor league days, 35 year-old Jim Morris came out of nowhere to make his big league debut with the Devil Rays in 1999. (I went more in-depth with the story in this post.)
That certainly makes for one of the strangest rookie cards ever produced.
And, if you haven't yet seen the film, go and rent it immediately.
It'll probably give you a better understanding of why this card ranked so high in my "Top 100".
Plus, it's a darn good piece of cinema.
#48 -- 1999 Upper Deck #409 Jim Abbott
Jim Abbott was basically the reason I created the "two-card rule" for my countdown.
Without it, he'd probably own at least five or six of the hundred total slots.
I needed to keep it fair.
It was tough to settle on my two favorite Abbott cards. The first was never in doubt, as it's one you'll see once we get into the deeper reaches of these posts.
In the end, though, I gave this one the second slot.
Keen-eyed collectors might be wondering why I picked this one over his 1991 Upper Deck issue, one that features an ever-rare shot of a post-DH/pre-interleague AL "pitcher at the plate".
It's a valid point.
I'm not big on UD's 1999 design. And, although still neat, a National League "pitcher at the plate" isn't all that uncommon in this hobby.
However, this is one of those cards that I can trace back to my childhood. As you can tell from some of its edge and corner wear, I've had this one in my collection for a long, long time.
As I was just starting to get into baseball, I remember thinking how cool it was that a guy with one hand actually got to hit in the bigs.
Because I've always been kind of a "stat geek", I looked further into it. Much to my surprise, I found that Abbott actually collected two hits during his '99 season with the Brewers.
That is and always will be awesome.
Not unlike this card.
#47 -- 1988 Conlon Collection #9 Daffy/Dizzy Dean
Interestingly, this card is listed in my "big book o' cards" as simply a "Daffy" Dean issue.
But I know better.
No matter what my book might say, this is one of the greatest "combo" cards in history, featuring my all-time favorite baseball brother duo.
Amazingly, "Dizzy" and "Daffy" dean won a combined 49 games in 1934, the prime year of the famous Cards' "Gashouse Gang".
Some cards need to be "flashy" or have some kind of cool characteristic to crack this list.
Not this one.
The mere appearance of the Dean brothers is enough for me.
#46 -- 1987 Classic Yellow #124 Andre Dawson
I've featured this one on my blog a few times before.
Although it's only been in my collection for a few months, there was never a doubt in my mind that it'd find its way into the "Top 100".
The fact that it was my favorite find from the self-proclaimed "best dime box ever" should tell you something.
In my years of collecting, I have never seen another card of a guy getting beaned.
I doubt I ever will.
Even now, I just can't get over the fact that a photographer managed to capture the exact moment this ill-fated baseball met Andre Dawson's face.
It's just not something you see every day.
#45 -- 1997 Pinnacle Denny's #29 Jackie Robinson
This was certainly one of the more "obscure" cards to make my countdown.
Denny's or not, the action-filled "play at the plate" makes it one of my personal favorite Dodger cards in existence. Although I'm probably not one to speak for the greatest Dodger cards ever made.
Someone's already doing that one, a list which was the inspiration for this very countdown.
Even with all the great three-dimensional cards out there, this proved to be the only 3-D issue to crack the "Top 100".
But, still...a card from Denny's? In the "Top 100"?
#44 -- 2007 UD Masterpieces #5 Carlton Fisk
Like the famous Mazeroski homer, I have plenty of cards that showcase Carlton Fisk's immortal dinger from the '76 World Series.
And every single one is an absolute masterpiece.
Appropriately, though, I feel that UD's Masterpieces issue did the greatest job of depicting the finish of arguably the greatest game in baseball history.
Even though not being able to see a player's face on a card is usually a deal-breaker for me, I'll always make a special exception for this one.
It captured this elegant "moment in time" in all its glory.
#43 -- 2010 Topps #409b Richie Ashburn SP
As I've mentioned before, my MLB Showdown ties make this a special favorite of mine.
No matter how you slice it, though, this is one of the better faux-action shots I've ever seen on a piece of cardboard.
The vivid colors on it are second to none.
One of my bigger regrets as a collector is the fact that I haven't been able to track down more of these "legend" short-prints.
The Ashburn is one of just three or four in my collection as we speak.
I'll certainly be on the hunt for more of them at future shows.
Until then, though, Mr. Ashburn will certainly tide me over.
I could never, ever get sick of this one.
#42 -- 2001 Upper Deck Legends #42 Babe Ruth
I swear, I didn't plan for a card number 42 to occupy the 42nd slot in this countdown.
Just a happy accident, I guess.
"The Babe" certainly deserves better these days. Even with the gluttony of the base and inserts we've seen of his lately, most of them feature overused and heavily recycled shots of the "Sultan of Swat".
That lack of effort makes this one stand out all the more in my Yankee binder.
Ruth was a true "hero" to baseball. Without him, there's a good chance we'd be watching an entirely different version of the game these days.
I'm not sure that any card does a better job of capturing that "heroic" sense than this one.
I mean, the guy's wearing a gigantic crown that literally has his name on it.
What more do you need?
#41 -- 1992 Topps #40 Cal Ripken Jr.
Tonight's "Top 100" installment closes out with one of the unquestioned "gems" of the overproduction era.
Not surprisingly, I featured it in the theme devoted to that very subject long ago.
Even though I only caught the tail end of his career, Ripken was one of my favorite players to watch as a kid.
He was a true "professional" in every sense of the term, something that came through in the way he played the game.
Not to mention that he was arguably the most consistent player baseball has ever seen.
Although he would eventually eclipse the hallowed mark, Ripken was still a few years away from breaking Lou Gehrig's consecutive games played record when this card was released.
I guess he wasn't the superstitious type.