Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Trick or treat, I guess

I'll admit it.

These days, I'm not the biggest fan of Halloween.

Like every other kid, I loved it when I was younger. At eight years of age, what could've been better than free candy? (Free baseball cards, perhaps. Although no one gave those away in my trick-or-treating days.)

As I get older and (hopefully) move into a nice, two-story house on a street corner, I'm sure I'll start to appreciate it more. Given that we don't get any trick-or-treaters in the condominium complex in which I live, I've never had the "adult" Halloween experience of giving candy away.

I'm not one to "teepee" or egg other people's houses, either.

Am I one of the few?


As much as I'd like to think otherwise, Halloween is basically just another day on the calendar at this point. (Although I may have to go and re-watch an episode from one of my favorite TV shows sometime tonight.)

The fact that I don't like horror movies adds on to that.

Now, "scary" baseball cards, on the other hand...well, that's another story.

I don't remember exactly how I came across that Mother's Cookies card of Rusty Staub at the top of the post.

Frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if I dropped it in fear the moment after I removed it from the package.

With Staub's purplish flesh and zombie-like state, how could I not?

This card has been burned into my memory for all the wrong reasons. If I hear the name "Rusty Staub", this is what I picture.

It's one spooky piece of cardboard.

Still, it doesn't come close to taking the "scariest baseball card" honors.

This does.

A hundred times over.

Assuming that this blog is around years down the road, you can bet that I'll be showing this card every single October 31st.

I'm told that this piece of "art" is supposed to resemble "The Human Vacuum Cleaner", Brooks Robinson.

I sure don't believe it, though.

In fact, I don't know what the scariest part of this card is.

Could it be that eerie yellow glow behind his head? The scar-like mutilations on the Orioles cap? Or is it Robinson's horror-esque face?

The face. It's got to be the face.

Yet, despite the nightmarish qualities this card carries, I can't bring myself to get rid of it.

I collect Hall of Famers. Brooks Robinson is a Hall of Famer. One of my favorite ones, at that.

For better or worse, it's become a permanent part of my collection.

You have to be a little crazy to collect baseball cards.

How else could I explain it?


Ah, what the heck.

I might as well try to have a little fun on Halloween.

If you'll indulge me, I'd like to sing one of my favorite songs...through cardboard. A song I've known by heart for as long as I can remember.

Feel free to join in if you want, because I'm sure you know the words.

"Trick or treat...

...smell my feet!"

"Give me something good to eat!"

"If you don't...

...I don't care!"

"I'll pull down your underwear!"



I feel better already.

Singing that song makes me feel like a kid again.

I guess October 31st isn't all bad.

On that note...

Happy Halloween, everyone!

I'm sure I'll enjoy it more in the coming years.

At least when Brooks Robinson stops giving me nightmares.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A collection of odd

In baseball, I've always had an interest in the "odd".

It could be something simple, like Craig Counsell's old batting stance or Chad Bradford's funky submarine delivery.

On the other side of the coin, some aspects of baseball history have become legendary because of how much they stand out. Take the Wrigley Field ivy, for instance.

Because of all this, it's only natural that I'd do the same with cardboard.

I'm talking about those crazy things we call "oddballs", of course.

So, what are "oddballs", exactly?

I couldn't tell you for sure.

I just know 'em when I see 'em.

Year-in, year-out sets like Topps flagship or Heritage have kept me going as a collector. In the past, the base releases of Upper Deck and Fleer did the same. I probably wouldn't be in this hobby without that consistency.

At the same time, I don't know that I'd still be collecting today if it weren't for "oddballs".

Although they're not as plentiful in this day in age, they never cease to amaze. I can't help but stop and stare whenever I find one in a dime box, or whenever I'm simply flipping through my collection.

They're hard to ignore.

My former-Devil Rays-turned-Rays binder is home to quite a few cards of the "oddball" variety.

When I was in 4th grade, one of our class projects was to write a letter to some sort of celebrity, company, or franchise. The primary focus of it was to practice our writing skills.

Actually getting something back was just icing on the cake.

I must've been on a Devil Rays kick at the time, because I chose to send a nice letter to Tampa Bay as my "project".

A short while later, I received a large mailer back, courtesy of the Devil Rays. My memories of actually opening the package are a bit hazy, but I'd bet I was one happy camper as a young baseball fan.

While the mailer did consist of a nice return letter and a cool D'Rays program, my absolute favorite part of it was the team-exclusive set of baseball cards they sent.

Although the set included stars such as Wade Boggs and Fred McGriff, my favorite of the bunch has to be the "educational" Quinton McCracken card at the top of the post. (On a side note, I actually have the book that he's holding in that photo.)

It's certainly not your everyday baseball card.

The Rays have always been one of my favorite clubs, something that was probably a direct result of that great "fan package" they put together for me.

I've never had a chance to thank them until now.

Another major part of my early collecting days were these paper-thin "Sports Illustrated for Kids" cards.

Each issue came with nine different cards, featuring athletes from all different sports.

Of course, the only ones I ever cared about were the baseball players.

I couldn't wait until the next issue arrived on my doorstep, mainly so I could see which new "cards" I could add to my collection, all of which still reside with me to this day.

Personally, I can't remember a better "set" than these "Athletes of the Decade", which consisted of legends such as Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, and Jackie Robinson.

Okay, I'll admit it. I even stole a few of these from the "public" SI for Kids issues that my school's library had in 5th and 6th grade.

Such neat "oddballs" will make you do crazy things, I guess.

It's not often that I'll make an "in the dark" purchase when it comes to cardboard.

However, that's precisely what I did with this 1995 Old Judge series.

Even though I knew absolutely nothing about them, I still pounced when a member of my trading forum was offering the complete 36-card set at the bargain-basement price of one dollar.

While a few future stars such as Derek Lowe and Bobby Abreu were included, I'd never heard of most of the guys in the set.

Still, I couldn't help but like them.

For better or worse, most recent oddballs aren't licensed by MLB. As a result, they have to omit any mention of team names or logos.

I still don't know what that "P" is supposed to represent, given that Derek Lowe was drafted by the Seattle Mariners.

Such mysteries are part of the fun of "oddballs", though.

Given my "vintage bias", it's no surprise that many of my favorite "oddballs" come from the distant past.

Perhaps the oldest of the odd in my collection are the few '69 Topps "Deckle Edge" cards I've purchased over the years.

I've always had a special interest in older photographs, especially when it comes to baseball.

These make me feel like I'm holding a true piece of Americana, given their photo album-like quality.

Plus, this one features Dick Allen.

What more could I want?

As far as 3-D cards go, the "oddball" Kellogg's issues are the cream of the crop.

Topps experimented with three-dimensional cardboard before Kellogg's came around. Many other companies have used the concept since then as well.

However, none of those even come close to the sugary greatness of these.

I had the good fortune to come across a nice stack of these in a flea market dime box a couple years ago, one that netted me awesome 3-D issues of Jay Johnstone and the above Rollie Fingers.

Not bad for some loose change.

As far as my taste in "oddballs" goes, nothing can top these.

The famous Hostess cards, featured on the bottoms of sugary snacks in the 1970's and early '80s.

From my experience, these seem to be one of the few "universal" aspects of the card community. I've never seen anyone who doesn't enjoy a cool Hostess card here or there.

My dad has often rehashed how he'd go through every box of Twinkies on the shelf in order to find one with cards he needed, so they have a little bit of personal history to me.

I'd probably put on a few pounds if they tried something like that today.

Perhaps the best thing about Hostess cards is that there certainly doesn't seem to be a shortage of them. I usually come back with at least a couple from every card show I attend.

Like the Kellogg's Rollie Fingers, this '75 Hostess Gaylord Perry is also a former dime box find of mine.

One of my better ones, if I do say so myself.

The six types of "oddballs" I've shown in this post only begin to scratch the surface.

Believe me, I could go on for hours with this topic. To me, they're one of the best sources for pure enjoyment in this hobby.

They don't have to be shiny, serial-numbered, or flashy in any way. If that Derek Lowe card is any indication, they don't even have to be that pretty.

All they have to do is stand out.

That's what an "oddball" is, after all.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Mondays with Hoyt, Episode 21

2005 Upper Deck Classics #45 Hoyt Wilhelm

Before I start tonight's post, I'd like to let all those on the east coast know that you're in my thoughts as this hurricane approaches.

In my experience, I've noticed that the majority of collectors (the ones who I've dealt with online, anyways) reside in the east coast. 

Be safe!

Moving on to a different subject...I'm sure we're all aware of what happened last night.

The Giants won the World Series for the second time in the last three years.

Although I know I'm probably the 832nd different blogger to post about it at this point, it's still something worth addressing.

Given that the Nationals, A's, and Orioles were all eliminated in the early stages of the playoffs, I figured I wouldn't have much to get excited about during the final few weeks of the season.

While that was pretty much true about both the AL and NL Championship Series contests, I found myself getting into the Giants' four-game sweep over the Tigers in this year's Fall Classic.

I'm still not quite sure why. Maybe it's because I would've hated to see the Tigers win it all, given that they knocked the White Sox out of contention.

Whatever the reason, I'm glad I still found myself caring about the World Series.

I would've hated to let those last few precious days of the baseball season go to waste.

Plus, one of my favorite former Cubs will forever be a footnote in the annals of baseball history, as Mr. Ryan Theriot scored the Series-winning run in last night's 4-3 victory.

With that, so begins my first full offseason as a blogger.

Since I started this blog in early December of last year, I wasn't on board to fully experience what transpires in the blogosphere when baseball isn't around to keep us company. (I don't specifically remember much from that first month or two of blogging, anyways.)

I'll be interested to see how much the readership of this blog and others is affected by the offseason, if at all.

More than that, I'm eager to find out if it will play a role in my own "inspiration" to write. Will I still want to blog on a day-to-day basis?

I think I can provide a good answer to that right now.


With collecting, there's no such thing as an "offseason". 

That's one of the great things about it.

While there may not be many new "exciting" new sets coming out in the next few months (thanks, but I'll pass on dollar-a-card Bowman Chrome and that "Five Star Club" stuff), there's still a lot to love about the winter months in the cardboard universe.

After all, card shows have no bounds. In fact, I'll be attending one next month.

While I'm bound to see a little more football and basketball this time around, I'm sure the majority of the show will consist of sweet, glorious baseball cards. 

I'm already looking forward to it.

Plus, it's not like my collection instantly disappears during the offseason.

Whether for inspiration to blog or just for sheer enjoyment, I've still got my collection to browse through any time I want. 

My Hoyt collection will still be there for me during the 20-degree weather and massive blizzards. 

Whether it features a simple Upper Deck Classics base card, a shiny numbered parallel, or an elegant vintage piece, you'll still see the continuance of "Mondays with Hoyt" throughout the offseason.

Even more than that, you'll definitely see this blog running at full throttle during the winter months.

I wouldn't have it any other way.

Besides, the return of baseball isn't that far off in the distance.

There's only 115 more days until the first spring training games begin.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Flip it

Think of a baseball card.

Any baseball card.

Maybe it's your absolute favorite card. Or perhaps it's one of your big "acquisitions" from a few days ago. Or maybe it's your very first card, if you're lucky enough to remember what it was.

If you were to ask a thousand different collectors to picture a specific card, I'm sure you'd get a thousand different answers.

That's part of what I love about this hobby.

However, in a situation like that, I'm sure all of them would involve at least one common factor.

Of those thousand collectors, I'm sure each one would think of the front of the card in question.

I'd be inclined to do so as well. After all, the front is basically the "meat" of every baseball card.

Still, that doesn't mean the backs should be ignored altogether.

Far from it, actually.

They should be celebrated.

True, my collection doesn't necessarily emphasize the backs of my cards. By using both the front and back of each of my nine-pocket pages, I'm able to store eighteen cards in each.

While it is a lot more efficient (both storage and money-wise), it takes away from the beauty that the backs of some cards can hold.

It's one of the few pitfalls of my organizational system.

Lately, I've been on a quest to find some of the "hidden greatness" that lie on the backs of cardboard.

In the past, I'd tend to just "ooh" and "aah" at the fronts of each card that I'd bring home from a successful flea market venture or card show. 

These days, I do my best to carefully examine both sides of all my new "pickups".

As I've found, there's a lot of that "hidden greatness" just waiting to be discovered.

Because of how inherently awesome the front of Vida Blue's 1973 Topps issue is, it took me a while to flip it over.

Just when I thought this card couldn't get any better, the back suggested otherwise.

Of all the vintage card backs in existence, I'd rate '73 Topps as my favorite.

For one thing, the black-yellow color combination really stands out. I've also found myself fascinated with what words Topps capitalizes in the player bios. (Since when is "Save" a proper noun?)

But, most of all, the little fun facts are what put these over the top in my view.

Without them, I wouldn't know that Paul Blair was the scoring leader on the Orioles' basketball team. Or that Fergie Jenkins was named Canada's "Athlete of the Year" in 1971.

Few of the tidbits can better the one Topps provided for Vida Blue's card. The odd fact that he was vice-president of a plumbing company speaks to the overall "fun" that collecting should be. 

It also probably speaks to the salaries of early '70s ballplayers.

Sometimes, I think I take technology for granted.

I've never lived through a time where computers or cell phones weren't readily accessible.

If I wanted to, I could find Honus Wagner's career statistics within seconds. I've never had to rely on baseball cards for stats.

However, to someone growing up in 1976, I'm sure these "All-Time Greats" cards were quite the innovation. (My dad often mentions how much he loved them as a kid.)

If you wanted know what Wagner's career batting average was, it was right there. If you wanted to know how many homers he hit in 1908, it was right there. If you wanted to know when he was elected to the Hall of Fame, it was right there.

Given that I didn't grow up during the era, I don't know that I could ever fully comprehend how great the "career stats" portions of card backs were back in the day.

I can only speculate.

As far as card backs go, having full career stats is easily my first preference.

However, some card brands have managed to spice up the flip sides in other ways.

Take Stadium Club, for instance.

The comprehensive "BARS Chart" stats were something that I'm sure intrigued and confused a lot of collectors in 1992. They look like an early form of sabermetrics to me.

However, what I really like about early Stadium Club sets is the fact that they included a small picture of each player's rookie card on the back. It's one of the more truly unique approaches I've seen to cardboard, as I've never seen a company attempt to replicate it since.

With grizzled veterans such as "Goose" Gossage, the rookies can date back to decades prior. While a lot of things changed from 1973 to 1992, one constant was seeing the "Goose" on a big-league mound.

Stadium Club did a great job of capturing that.

For better or worse, Upper Deck changed the hobby in a lot of ways.

Even though they played a major role in the overall craziness of the overproduction era, I have to give UD a tremendous amount of credit on at least one front.

They single-handedly revolutionized the backs of baseball cards.

If Jim Abbott's 1991 UD issue is any indication, the company was always near the top in terms of photography.

In their competition with the other card companies at the time, they managed to take that to a whole other level.

As far as I know, Upper Deck was the first company to give the collector a full color photo on the back of every card.

For me, the front of this Jim Abbott card would've been more than enough. I love any cards of "pitchers at the plate", much less a pre-interleague play American Leaguer with Abbott.

The back just tops it all off, in my opinion.

These "continuity" backs are among my favorites.

I'd have to believe that the shot of Abbott on first base was taken directly after the photo used on the front of the card.

Is it the single greatest card back in my collection?

Quite possibly.

Still, Upper Deck had a lot more to offer in that department.

In some cases, the backs of cards are even better than the fronts.

On the surface, Roger McDowell's 1992 Upper Deck issue doesn't seem all that exciting. (Unless mullets are your thing.)

Until you flip it over, anyways.

From what I know, McDowell was a well-known "prankster" during his days in the game. Upper Deck certainly managed to convey that on this one.

On what I have to assume was a hot, muggy day in Chicago, UD managed to capture McDowell in the process of dousing the Wrigley Field faithful with a nice helping of water from what looks to be a fire hose.

How's that for a "unique" glimpse at the game of baseball?

Thanks to the backs of baseball cards, I'm still learning new things about my collection.

Up until a few weeks ago, I never thought to flip over Mickey Hatcher's goofy 1991 Upper Deck card.

That is, until it made Night Owl's "100 Best Dodger Cards" countdown, coming in at number 83.

Since Hatcher isn't in my binders, I'd stored it away in one of the many "extras" boxes around my room after I pulled it last year. (A part of the first "new" card purchases I ever displayed on this blog.)

After seeing it on Night Owl's blog, I scrambled to try and find it amongst all the other cardboard "rubble" in my room. After a little digging, I finally found it.

While the front of the card is awesome, I couldn't wait to flip it over.

I have to believe that this is the first and only instance of a guy putting out a fire on a baseball card, something that was likely the result of a dreaded "hotfoot" prank. (Note the card number 666 as well.)

I can't wait to see what other "hidden greatness" is sitting out there, begging to be unearthed.

Don't get me wrong. It's always a treat to gaze at the fronts of baseball cards.

Still, something should be said for the "hidden greatness" that backs can hold as well.

After all, there's two sides to every baseball card.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Gems of Junk Wax, Pt. 48: 1991 Studio #38 Sammy Sosa

This is the first time I've prominently featured a Sammy Sosa card on this blog.

That's no accident.

I grew up watching the likes of Bonds, McGwire, and Sosa. They were my introduction to the game of baseball as a kid.

As I got older, I found out what was really going on with those "record breaking" sluggers.

They weren't playing by the rules.

Unlike many other bloggers, I grew up during the "steroid era" of the game.

Because of this, I've largely shied away from showing any of the "faces" of that time period on the blog. For one thing, I don't collect any of them.

But, more than that, I don't think I'll ever be able to fully get over the fact that these guys were my "heroes" as a young baseball fan.

Every once in a while, though, something comes along and makes you forget about that for a moment.

That's exactly what we have with this "gem".

Judging by what I look for in a baseball card, I should despise this one.

I've never liked the Studio brand. For the most part, they remind me of bad high school yearbook photos.

And this one features Sammy Sosa.

Not exactly the makings of a "great" piece of cardboard.

Still, I can't help but smile every time I see it.

That devilish smile on Sosa's face is something straight out of a horror flick. When does Michael Myers pop out of the background?

Then, we've got that hair. Where to begin?

I don't know what the heck to call that hairstyle. It looks to be somewhere between a mullet, a Jehri-curl, and a flat-top.

The best thing about this card?

It only cost me a dime.

That's a small price to pay for such greatness.

I may not like Sammy Sosa. I may not like the fact that he "juiced". I may not like that he got busted using a corked bat. I may not like that he disappointed me as a "hero".

That should tell you just how much power this card holds.

Every time I see it, I forget about all that.

Even if it is just for a moment.

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.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

A little off (center)

I'm having one of those days.

A day where I can't seem to string together a cohesive thought.

After trying and failing with a few other post ideas, I'm feeling a One could even say a little off-center.

That's when theme posts come in handy. The idea is already there for you.

While I haven't yet deemed it as an "official" theme, I've unwittingly been displaying some of my favorite "error" cards on the blog over the past couple months.

Tonight's subjects fit in nicely with my overall mood right now.


If you look closely enough, I'm sure every card is miscut, to a certain extent. Ones with 55/45 or 60/40 centering are fairly common in this hobby.

However, the cards I'll be showing tonight are way, way beyond that. If it's possible to have a negative centering "score", these would be it.

While I'm sure no one in this hobby prefers a miscut card to a nicely centered one, there's something to be said about my "miscut favorites".

I'm sure thousands of near-perfect copies of Chris Chambliss's 1972 Topps issue exist these days.

On the other hand, I'm sure you'd be hard-pressed to find one as blatantly off-center as the one that resides in my collection.

It's certainly a unique piece.

While I'm sure some of these unsightly miscuts exist these days, they've mostly become a thing of the past.

Judging from a lot of the vintage I've browsed through over the years, they were actually commonplace back in the day.

I'm sure heaps of off-center '71 Topps cards are available in discount boxes around the nation. This "Rookie Stars" card with a then-young Bill Buckner is just one of the many I've found.

Just like with any "error" cards, these are neat in small quantities. I wouldn't want them to pop up with too much regularity.

I don't necessarily see these as "ugly", a word I'm sure a lot of others would use to describe miscut cards.

They're more like "novelties" to me.

This is easily one of the strangest cards I own.

As you can see, the back of this '76 Topps card is horribly miscut, one that features the career stats for one-time Giants pitcher Gary Lavelle.

Again, that isn't exactly rare as far as vintage goes.

It's the front of the card that makes it a distinctly unique piece.

Yes, this is the front of that very same card.

Somehow, a front featuring Fergie Jenkins got spliced together with a Gary Lavelle back. I'm not exactly sure how something like that happens in the printing process.

A "miscut" and a "mismatch" on the same card.

Topps didn't exactly do their best work with this one.

While I've heard of the existence of other "mismatched" issues, this is the only one I own. That in itself makes it a great piece to have.

I'm feeling a special bond with these cards tonight. I guess it happens to every blogger, sooner or later.

I should be back and have some better material for my fellow readers by tomorrow.

Hopefully, I'll be a bit more centered.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Just plain wrong: The sequel

I've often wondered if any movie sequels are truly better than the original.

After thinking about it, I can only come up with one definitive answer.

I know a lot of people will probably disagree, but I've always felt that Major League II is a bit better than the original.

Don't get me wrong. The first Major League is one of my all-time favorites. For whatever reason, I just seem to like the second one a tad more. (I think Randy Quaid's character coupled with the "brawl" scene put it over the top.)

For the most part, though, sequels pale in comparison to the originals.

Still, that doesn't necessarily mean they're bad, right?

I certainly hope not, because I've forced myself to do a follow-up to my "just plain wrong" post from earlier this month.

That post alone wasn't enough to get all that "wrongness" out of me.

I've tried to come up with explanations as to why I love these cards so much. What's so special about these "wrong" uniforms, anyways?

To tell you the truth, I couldn't give you a good answer for that...yet. There's just something awesome about these that's hard to put into words.

Judging from the comments I got on my original post on this topic, a few other members of the blogosphere are right there with me.

Blogger Chuck of "Chuck's Used Cards" mentioned one that I'm surprised didn't make it into my first post.

After he enjoyed such a long and distinguished career with the Tigers, how could I forget the wrongness of Ty Cobb as a Philadelphia Athletic?

"The Georgia Peach" spent the final two seasons of his career with the A's, only hitting .357 and .323 during those years.

The above card was one of the first "white whales" I can remember spearing for my collection. I think I actually first saw it in a Beckett magazine, back when I still read that kind of stuff. Lo and behold, it turned up in a dime box a few months afterward.

Since Cobb actually has two cards better than this one, I had to leave it off my "Top 100" list because of my "two-card rule".

For all intensive purposes, though, this is one of my hundred favorite cards.

Almost fifty years and two city changes later, the A's laid claim to another member of the "just plain wrong" club.

As I mentioned in the original post, "iconic" Cubs like Ron Santo and Kerry Wood could never look right in other uniforms. It's not a slight against the White Sox or Indians. It's just that guys like Santo will always be Cubs to me.

The same can easily be said about Billy Williams.

Look, I don't blame guys for leaving the Cubbies. Especially not Mr. Williams.

After playing for a lot of dreadful Cubs teams of the '60s and early '70s, Williams fled for greener pastures in Oakland in 1975, joining a team that was coming off their third straight World Series championship.

Can you blame him? (Unfortunately, they didn't win a title during Williams' two years in Oakland.)

The reason for the uniform change doesn't matter to me, though.

No matter what, Billy Williams will never look right as an Oakland Athletic.

Blogger Dennis from "Too Many Verlanders" also had a great suggestion for this topic.

Ken Griffey Jr. is a bit like the bizarro version of Kerry Wood or Billy Williams.

While icons like Williams didn't look right in any franchise outside of Chicago, Griffey just never seemed to fit in the Windy City, no matter how much I've tried to feel the opposite.

I remember hearing the news after the Sox acquired him. At the time, I thought, "One of the greatest players in baseball history is actually coming to Chicago!"

Although his tenure on the South Side was basically a bomb, it was a pleasure to see "The Kid" play for one of the hometown teams.

Still, I've never, ever, ever equated him with the White Sox.

It's safe to say that Roger Maris is a New York Yankee, first and foremost.

However, people sometimes forget that he played for three other teams during his career.

Before getting dealt to the Bronx, he had short tenures with the Indians and A's. (Again with the A's.)

I've got a few cards of Maris in Indians and A's jerseys. While they definitely look unfamiliar, they just don't seem completely "wrong" to me.

Maris as a St. Louis Cardinal is a different story, though.

For a long time, I never even knew he played for the Redbirds. I recall getting this card in a trade one day and asking, "Since when was Roger Maris a Cardinal?"

He spent two injury-plagued seasons in St. Louis at the end of his career. He was a part of the World Series champion '68 Redbirds club for the second of those years.

As great as those red Cardinals colors may be, I'll always remember Maris in the pinstripes.

For the most part, these "wrong" cards are fairly limited.

I only have about a dozen cards of Ty Cobb as a member of the A's, and I have Conlon Collection to thank for about half of those.

The '76 Billy Williams is one of just three cards I own of him in an Oakland jersey.

As far as that goes, Randy Johnson is the exception to the rule.

I currently own about 30 different cards of "The Big Unit" as a member of the San Francisco Giants.

And not a single one looks right.

As cool as this Upper Deck insert might be, and despite the fact that he picked up his 300th win with the franchise, I can't accustom myself to the sight of Randy Johnson as a Giant.

I know I'm not the only one who feels that way.

Even with the "best of the wrong" that I've shown thus far, I have a feeling the following one will put this sequel over the top.

I'm not exactly sure how it got left out of the original post, as it's probably the "king of wrong" in my collection.

To my knowledge, this is the only card in existence that pictures Harmon Killebrew as a Kansas City Royal.

Maybe card companies figured it was just too "wrong" to feature in their sets. If it hadn't been for the efforts of the often-overlooked SSPC series, there would be no cardboard evidence to show that Killebrew actually played in Kansas City during the final year of his career in '75.

It's almost beyond comprehension to see a guy with a nickname like "The Killer" in that pale blue uniform.

This is a "repeat offender" on this blog, something I don't often do.

Still, if any card deserves multiple looks, it's this one.

It oozes with just plain "wrongness", probably more so than any other piece of cardboard I own.

So...was this sequel better than the original?

I'll let you be the judge of that.

Something tells me that there might be even more of these posts down the road. Judging from what I know about the Major League and The Sandlot sagas, though, I should probably be careful.

The third ones usually suck.


I'm happy to report that this blog has hit yet another milestone.

Sometime this morning, "Dime Boxes" received its 50,000th page view.

When I started this blog, it was purely on an experimental basis. I'd already been reading other blogs for a few months, so I figured I'd try it for a while. Honestly, I didn't think it would last more than a week or so.

Long story short, that week has nearly turned into a year. And the milestones keep on coming.

For all my loyal readers, I thank you. You're the reason this blog is still going.

To "celebrate", I thought I'd show off some recent pickups from one of those loyal readers, none other than Mark, author of the blog "This Way to the Clubhouse...".

Mark's blog is definitely one of the best "newer" ones out there. Plus, he's the only blogger I know of who actually took a shot with this year's Heritage High Numbers release.

While I wasn't a fan of the route Topps took with the set, I do wish you the best of luck with your purchase, Mark. I'll be excited to see what you pull!

As one of the "friends of the blog", it wasn't long until Mark and I struck up a trade.

Since I'm pretty much done with the trading forums at this point, I'll have to rely on the blogosphere to fill all my newer "set needs" from now on.

Mark definitely succeeded in that realm, helping me secure a few of the final Update base cards I needed, one of which was the above R.A. Dickey "Record Breakers" card.

I'll be one unhappy camper if Dickey doesn't take home the Cy Young award this year.

Mark also sent me a couple A's, past and present.

With Moneyball and all, I've always had a slight interest in the Athletics, but their run this year has transformed me into a devoted fan of the franchise.

From what I've seen, they've got a bright future. Mr. Cespedes is right in the middle of that.

Next to Rollie Fingers, "Catfish" Hunter is probably my favorite player to have worn the green and gold A's jersey.

That Archives reprint takes its place next to my actual copy of Hunter's '68 Topps issue in my binders. I still get excited every time I manage to obtain a real/reprint combo.

Ah, the simple joys of collecting.

In this hobby, some things tend to "grow" on you.

At first, I wasn't a huge fan of last year's "liquorfractors". Nowadays, I can't get enough of them.

I have a feeling it will be the same way with these gold sparkles. Up to this point, I've only taken a casual interest in them.

Come January, I might be singing a whole different tune.

Mark absolutely flooded me with Target and Wal-Mart parallels in the cards he sent.

Because of how great they look in nine-pocket pages, I'll always be a sucker for these.

Over the years, I've accumulated a nice amount of those Wal-Mart parallels. Ironically, I've only bought cards from Wal-Mart on one occasion in my collecting life. (A couple blasters of 2011 Heritage, for what it's worth.)

That Fukudome is especially neat, considering that he only spent about a month on the South Side of Chicago.

An instant favorite for the "unfamiliar uniform" collection!

As far as I'm concerned, any Clemente card I receive is an "instant favorite".

Much less an awesome '87 mini of his. When Mark let me know that this one was coming my way, I got a little giddy.

Wouldn't you?

Still, I'm not even sure that it was the best card in the package.

Before they actually arrived, Mark hinted that he'd included a "surprise" for me, a parallel of a '90s card I'd recently shown on the blog.

However, he didn't say which card it was, which resulted in even more anticipation on my part.

That "surprise" turned out to be the very last card in the package...

A gold parallel of one of the best cards I've picked up this year.

The famous "Three Russians" of 1993 Topps.

After I received the package, Mark told me that he picked this one up in a swap with one of his "boyhood buddies back in the day", a card that has a "nice history to it" as far as his collecting career goes.

I wholeheartedly appreciate the fact that you passed it on to me, Mark.

You definitely gave it a good home!

A huge thanks goes out to Mark for this awesome trade package.

That "thanks" also goes out to anyone who I've ever traded with, or anyone who has ever read, commented on, or even complimented this blog.

You're the reason these milestones keep on coming.

It's been an honor.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The ins and outs of organizing

For the most part, I'm not someone who particularly enjoys organizing things.

My room can be a bit of a pigsty at times. My homework assignments are scattered all over the place in my backpack. I've never once used one of those "planner" books.

In that regard, I guess it's ironic that my baseball card collection is so neat and well-sorted.

My usage of binders is the main reason for that.

As I've mentioned many times before on this blog, I'm a "binder guy". Aside from a few exceptions, every single one of my "keeper" cards is stored in one of my trusty binders.

It's been that way for as long as I can remember.

During my time in this hobby, I like to think I've learned a thing or two when it comes to binders, or just organizing in general.

A few days ago, I took a look through a few of my binders to see what all these years of sorting and organizing have taught me.

In doing so, I came up with a few general "tips", ones that I'd like to impart onto my fellow bloggers and readers.

I understand that not everyone has the time or effort it takes to keep one's collection in binders. I don't have anything against people who simply have their cards in boxes. From first-hand experience, I know that maintaining a binder can be quite the task.

However, my first "tip" is one that can be applied to any collecting method.

Whichever way you decide to organize your cards, make it something unique. Something you can enjoy going through over and over again.

I've begun to dub my way of organizing as the "hierarchy" method, something I explained on my very first post on this blog. (Or at least something I did my best to explain.)

Perhaps my favorite thing about my way of sorting are the "one-card wonders". Since my collection is based on individual teams, I get a huge kick out of seeing players who have only one issue sitting in one of my nine-pocket pages.

Tommy John's 1986 Topps issue is the only card I have that features him as an Oakland Athletic. As far my cards of A's pitchers go, he sits in between fellow "one-card wonders" Virgil Trucks and Al Downing.

Something as small as that might not sound like anything special to a lot of other collectors. But, then again, that's the great thing about organizing.

It's all about what you want.

Having your collection be "unique" in some way, shape, or form is definitely important.

At the same time, I'd recommend a method that makes it easy to track down a card in your collection at any given time.

Make it something you'll remember.

That's one of the main reasons I could never keep my cards in boxes. If I did, I'd be digging for a while if I wanted to see a specific card.

With binders, I'm able track down any card I want in mere seconds.

All I have to do to find this '79 Lenny Randle is go to the end of the "Third Basemen" section of my Mets binder, since this is one of just two cards I own of Randle as a Met. There it sits, right next to my meager four-card Mets collection of Joe Torre.

Given how awesome it is, I have the feeling it won't be the last time I'll want to see this card in-person.

As far as binders go, different sized cards are a tough call.

After all, they seem to come in all shapes and sizes these days.

I just keep my minis in my binders with the rest of my normal-sized cards. One day, though, I hope to find a few of those mini-specific pages I keep hearing about in the blogosphere.

I don't see a time where I could stop loving minis, but I'll admit that they don't look all that great in a normal page.

For oversized cards, all I can say is do not try to stuff them into a regular nine-pocket page. I'm sure I tried to do so a few times in my youth.

Sets like 1989 Bowman are fine because the widths are the same size as normal cards. They end up sticking out of the top of my pages in a rather unsightly manner. It's just one of the reasons I've dubbed it as my least favorite set of all-time.

While I'm sure they make pages geared towards organizing old Topps issues, I have yet to find any.

As a result, many of my older cards sit in individual toploaders across my bookshelf, an almost "museum-like" display.

Still, I can't help but wonder how neat my '55 Stan Hack would look in a binder.

I have a feeling it would be quite the sight.

When it comes to organizing, I had to learn the hard way a couple times.

My binders are all stored within a couple bookshelves, which elegantly sit near the side of my room.

While I've heard some say that having your binders stand straight up can potentially damage the cards, I've rarely had that problem.

You just have to be careful.

Unfortunately, "careful" wasn't exactly a good word to describe my way of doing things when I first entered the hobby.

I'd shove and push my binders into their respective places on my shelf, with little regard for anything that sat inside of them. (Hey, give me a break. Weren't you the same way as a kid?)

Luckily, after witnessing a couple "casualties" like this Zambrano, it didn't take me long to realize what an idiot I was being.

Nowadays, whenever I have some new cards to sort, I always remove and replace my binders with the utmost care and patience.

It really pays off.

Another of the "outs" for binders involves the tactic of "overfilling".

Simply put, don't do it.

I had a problem with this one for a while.

Nowadays, I have two, even three different binders for a lot of my teams. After all, my smattering of Yankees cards couldn't possibly fit in a single binder.

Yet, for a long time, I just didn't want to split up my cards. As a result, a lot of my binders had pages nearly spilling out the top and bottom, filled way beyond capacity.

My glorious Lou Gehrig collection was nearly being suffocated from all the other pages that sat on top of it.

Thankfully, I've recently come to embrace change with my collection. That thought process finally led me to splitting up a few of my binders, something I'd absolutely refused to do beforehand.

As I've found, change is definitely a good thing when it comes to collecting.

Now, Lou Gehrig sits comfortably in the second of my trio of Yankee binders.

I'm sure he's happy about it.

As I said before, I understand that not everyone is a "binder person".

However, if you're looking for something to spice up your collection a bit, I'd definitely recommend at least experimenting with a binder or two.

Aesthetically speaking, nothing can match it. Certainly not a 3200-count box.

Whether it's for a set, a player collection, or a team collection, binders are a great way to display your cardboard.

Just take a look at this "All Brooks, All the Time" page from my O's binder for proof.

If this can't convey the greatness of binders, I don't know what will.

Through everything I've mentioned in this post, just remember this.

Organizing should be fun.