Well, I guess I had to know this time would finally come.
My winter break officially ends tomorrow.
Back to school. Time to work hard again. Time to hopefully continue my efforts on becoming "Topps" of the class.
After this semester, I'll have my "gen eds" out of the way.
Which means that I'll finally be able to start making a major push towards my dream of becoming a teacher.
There's no doubt in my mind that bigger and better things await for me in the future.
Through it all, though, I'll happily have my baseball card collection to cherish.
Because of that, I can't think of a better way to "bow out" of this winter break than with another installment of my "Top 100".
We'll be down to the "Top 20" after this post.
As a quick note, I've decided to count down the last twenty cards on the list in increments of five, rather than the usual ten I've been doing thus far.
Yes, I want to milk these posts for all they're worth. They're easy to write. More than that, though, they're fun to write.
And, yes, a little of it is to build the "suspense", I guess. After all, these are my top hundred favorite modern baseball cards.
They deserve all the suspense they can get.
For now, though, I think we've got a wonderful grouping to celebrate here tonight.
#30 -- 2000 Upper Deck Yankees Legends #48 Waite Hoyt
I've long had a fascination with cards that depict players with their kids.
They give the collector a nice "outside the lines" type of view. Sometimes, I think we tend to forget that these guys are human beings with families to raise.
There are quite a few fantastic cards like these out there.
In the end, though, this is my far and away favorite.
Waite Hoyt is indeed a Hall of Famer. And those old-time warm-up sweaters are always cool to see.
But, obviously, what really makes this card is the appearance of the child. A child who I hope is being supported by someone else out of the frame in that shot.
Although I'm a long ways from becoming a father, I know that definitely isn't the safest way to hold a kid.
Just think. That "kid" is probably in her eighties right now.
It's quite mind-boggling.
Really puts things into perspective, once you stop and think about it.
#29 -- 2011 Tristar Obak #23 Pete Gray
I guess I should hand out another mini "spoiler alert".
This proved to be the newest card to make the countdown.
Although Obak might not win any medals for design or execution, the player selection is like a dream come true for me.
Look no further than Pete Gray for evidence of that.
These days, Gray is well-known around baseball circles as the "one-armed" ballplayer.
True, he probably would've never made it to the bigs had it not been for the World War II shortage of ballplayers.
To that, though, I say humbug. The fact that a guy like Gray could play professional baseball at all is enough.
Much less make it to the major leagues.
Although I'm sure there are others out there, this is currently the only card of Pete Gray in my collection.
With something like this, I could honestly care less about the overall "look" of the card.
When all is said and done, the story is all that really matters.
#28 -- 1994 Topps #180 George Brett
My feelings towards this card are a bit hard to put into words.
There's just so much to love about it.
Where do I start?
For one thing, this is indeed Mr. Brett's "sunset" card. Arguably the greatest of all the modern "sunsets", I might add.
Plus, we don't often see "action" shots from this angle in the world of cardboard. It truly gives us a unique look at the game.
More than that, though, this may be the most elegant setting I've ever seen on a baseball card.
Between the gargantuan scoreboard, the flowing waterfall, and the blooming trees in the distance, I can't find a single flaw with this one.
It's close to being the "perfect" baseball card.
If such a thing exists, that is.
#27 -- 2010 Topps Update "Wal-Mart Blue Backs" #35 Dizzy Dean
This is a fairly recent acquisition of mine.
One that had been a pressing need of mine for twelve whole years.
It was one of my "white whales", to say the least.
Up until a few months ago, I'd given up hope that there were any existing Cubs cards of Dizzy Dean.
I discovered this card while prowling around the cardboard depths of the Internet. The journey from "discovery" to "I must have it!" entailed all of about a minute.
It only took a few seconds for me to order it off Sportlots. For a couple wrinkled dollar bills, the "white whale" I had wanted for so long was finally in my hands.
And in my "Top 100", to boot.
Not a bad deal.
Not bad at all.
#26 -- 2001 Upper Deck #271 Ichiro Suzuki RC
We finally have our first Ichiro sighting in the "Top 100".
Will it be the last?
I'm not telling.
This is one of just three different rookie cards I own of Ichiro. All of them are special in their own respective ways.
But this one is easily my favorite.
Like a few of the other cards I've featured in this countdown, you can tell I've had this one for a while. The wear on the corners and edges are dead giveaways.
Still, those so-called "flaws" are what make this card such a cherished piece of my collection.
I pulled it during Ichiro's ground-breaking rookie season in '01. Which means I've had it since I was in the third grade.
A lot has changed since then.
However, this card has been one of the few constants of my life through the years.
I don't see that changing anytime soon, either.
Cards like this are part of what make this hobby so special.
#25 -- 1988 Score #501 Reggie Jackson
Some uniforms can be deemed as "unfamiliar".
Then again, some go way, way beyond such a simple term.
To tell you the truth, I don't think I have a good word to describe cards like this one.
Reggie Jackson as a Baltimore Oriole broke the "unfamiliar" threshold long ago. It's way past that nowadays.
Although card companies have produced a few more in recent years, this was the only card I'd seen of "Reggie" in Baltimore throughout my first ten years of collecting.
I happen to like the Score brand. I know I'm probably in the minority with that way of thinking.
Whether you like them or not, though, I think all of us should at least appreciate this little "gem".
It's just so...odd.
Still, the odder, the better.
That's my motto.
Speaking of which...
#24 -- 1992 Stadium Club #520 Wade Boggs
How's this for an odd piece of cardboard?
Usually, a celebration shot is focused on the player responsible for the celebration. Quite fittingly, too, if you ask me.
Even so, Stadium Club chose to take a different perspective on the whole "celebration" thing.
They indeed produced a celebration card with this one. But the responsible party is nowhere to be found.
Instead, we have a group of cheerful Red Sox players awaiting the mysterious "hero", spearheaded by Mr. Wade Boggs, the cheeriest of them all.
This is one of those cards that I could look at a thousand times and find something new to love about it on every occasion.
I only just noticed the umpire on the left side of this shot. It almost looks as if he's ready to give the hidden hero a "low-five".
Like I said.
The odder, the better.
#23 -- 2007 UD Masterpieces #2 Babe Ruth
Through its photography, collecting has opened up an entirely new world for me.
Had it not been for baseball cards, I probably would've never witnessed ninety-five percent of the terrific baseball shots I've seen over the years.
I've never seen photos like the aforementioned Brett or Boggs outside of this hobby.
Still, some cards simply capture an already-iconic moment from the annals of baseball history, bringing it into standard two-by-three form for every collector to enjoy.
As a fan of the game, I've seen this famous picture of "The Babe" a few dozen times, one that captures his Yankee Stadium "farewell". It's one of the more well-known shots in American lore.
Thanks to Upper Deck, I can say that I "own" a little piece of the historic moment.
I believe that collecting baseball cards is like collecting little bits of history, in a way. Every card carries a story.
That certainly rings true for this one.
More than almost any other card in my collection.
#22 -- 2002 Topps American Pie #94 Hank Greenberg
Here's another subject from the "beyond unfamiliar" category.
Despite the "Tigers" label on the right side of the card, American Pie chose to showcase Hank Greenberg as a Pirate in their 2002 release.
Although he's almost universally regarded as one of the greatest players in Tigers history, Greenberg spent the final season of his 13-year Hall of Fame career in Pittsburgh.
The fact that this was the first "Dime Box Hero" I showcased on this blog should tell you something.
I'd be hard-pressed to select my all-time greatest dime box find. The sheer quantity and variety of them would make for a nearly impossible task.
Still, there's a decent chance that this one would come out on top.
Few dimes have been better spent in the history of mankind.
#21 -- 2005 Upper Deck Classics #125 Ryne Sandberg RSR
Truthfully, these last two cards are basically like "21a" and "21b" in this countdown.
I had a tough time picking one over the other.
Greenberg as a Pirate may well be my all-time favorite "unfamiliar uniform" card.
But, as far as I can remember, this card of "Ryno" as a Phillie was one of the cards that kicked off my fascination with the subject.
I'd always known of Sandberg's brief 13-game stint with the '81 Phillies. I made it a point to learn as much as I could about past Cubs greats during my early days as a baseball fan.
Until this card came along, though, I had no idea that there was a card that featured "Ryno" in Philadelphia garb.
Busting packs of Upper Deck Classics played a large role in re-introducing me to the hobby.
Fittingly, this Sandberg proved to be one of the first "gems" I'd acquire upon my leap back into the world of baseball cards. I've had it in my binders since early 2006.
Needless to say, it's been a "Top 100" candidate all along.