Tuesday, January 1, 2013

"The Dime Boxes Top 100": Cards 40-31

I'm not much for making New Year's resolutions.

I tried that when I was younger. They went by the wayside within a week or two.

These days, I try not to kid myself.

Resolutions just aren't for me. Not at this point, anyways.

Besides, I'm pretty happy with how things have gone around here lately.

As far as collecting goes, my collection is a little too scattered to really pinpoint one area in particular.

I guess if I had to make one, I'd like to track down the elusive '62 Topps Hoyt Wilhelm for my Hoyt collection in 2013.

I'd really like to see that one come to fruition.

And, in terms of my blog, I'm satisfied with myself. I post as much as I think I should, and I've continued the whole "dime box" and sheer randomness concept I've been employing since day one.

But if you want to drag a resolution out of me, I guess I'd like to show more pieces from my non-baseball collection this year.

Hey, it's working already. Check out the top of this post.

Let it be known that the first card I've shown here in 2013 was indeed a non-baseball issue. It's the only new year's-themed card I could find.

Anyways, I hope all of you out there had a happy and safe holiday last night.

I don't know about you, but I can't think of a better way to kick off the new year around here than to showcase another grouping from my "Top 100".

We'll be into the "Top 30" after this post. I'm already getting excited.

In the meantime, I think we've got a tremendous grouping here.

 #40 -- 2003 Topps Heritage "Flashbacks" #F-1 Willie Mays

Like many of the other iconic "moments in time", I have quite a few cards that feature "The Catch".

And while they're all amongst my favorite pieces of cardboard, I feel that this one captured the play in the greatest light.

You can see how much ground Mays had to cover in the process. You can see how close to the wall he was. And you can see the split-second before the ball finally arrived in his glove.

In the end, you get a feeling for just how monumental "The Catch" was from this shot.

#39 -- 2010 Topps #1 Prince Fielder

In Topps' 61-year history, has a better card ever kicked off a Flagship checklist?

I don't think so.

I saw Fielder's famous celebration quite a bit on highlight reels when it initially happened, but never in my wildest dreams did I think it would wind up on a baseball card.

This is easily one of the greatest pulls of my lifetime. I remember being instantly enamored with this one from first sight.

Even now, three years later, I still can't help but stare at it whenever I'm flipping through my Brewers binder.

Although we understandably like to rag on them at times, you have to admit that using this shot was pure genius on the part of Topps.

As far as photography goes, it doesn't get much better than this.

#38 -- 2008 Stadium Club #98 Roberto Clemente

You had to know that Clemente would show up on this list sooner or later.

He's my all-time favorite ballplayer, after all.

And although New Year's Eve is supposed to be a time for celebration, I can't help but feel a little down every time December 31st comes around.

Forty years ago yesterday, we lost Mr. Clemente in that tragic plane crash.

Thankfully, everyone around the baseball community has played a tremendous role in honoring his legacy.

Card companies included.

There is no such thing as a bad Roberto Clemente card. I think most other collectors would agree with me there.

This, however, is nearly as good as it gets when it comes to Clemente cardboard. 

It's still the only card of his I own that showcases this beautiful shot.

Even though I featured a bunch of terrific "bat barrel" shots on this blog a few weeks ago, this one will always take the cake.

After all, it doesn't get any better than Roberto Clemente.

#37 -- 1993 Conlon Collection "Color Inserts" #22 Jim Thorpe

If Clemente is my favorite ballplayer in history, than Jim Thorpe may well be my all-time favorite athlete.

There was nothing the guy couldn't do.

He's in the NFL's Hall of Fame. He won gold medals in track and field at the 1912 Olympics. 

Plus, he enjoyed a fair six-year big league career.

The only two "keeper" football cards in my collection both belong to Jim Thorpe. I'm that big a fan of the guy.

Due to his fairly brief time in the bigs, though, baseball cards of Thorpe are fairly hard to come by. 

This is one of only eight in my collection as we speak.

But, man, is it a beauty.

I've said it before and I'll say it again.

Colorized old-time photography is the coolest.

#36 -- 1994 Ted Williams "Locklear Collection" #LC-13 Lou Gehrig

I get the feeling that this one should be in a museum.

If I would've gotten my hands on more of these in the past, chances are that you would've seen them pop up a couple more times on this list.

Even so, the Gehrig marks the second appearance of these inserts in the "Top 100", the other coming in at #74, courtesy of Honus Wagner.

Few pieces of cardboard in history can match the sheer artistry of these. 

Because of that, I see it as one of the most elegant cards in my collection.

Without a doubt. 

#35 -- 2006 Greats of the Game "Nickname Greats" #NG-MF Mark Fidrych

Like Mr. Clemente, you had to know that "The Bird" would find somehow his way onto this list.

Few of the "sections" in my binders mean more to me than the Mark Fidrych section of my Tigers binder. Every single card is like a little piece of cardboard history.

This one is certainly a head-turner, capturing him in the process of talking to himself (and possibly the baseball), one of his most famous antics. In a night game, to boot.

And, on top of all that, Fleer prominently featured the nickname that has made him so famous over the years.

"The Bird".

Of course, the antics of Mark Fidrych will continue to be cherished for as long as baseball is played on this Earth.

I know I'll be teaching my kids about the awesomeness of "The Bird", whenever that time may come.

#34 -- 2007 UD Masterpieces Black Linen #7 Don Larsen /99

For some reason, I've never been able to track down the base version of this one.

Yet, some time ago, the fairly rare "Black Linen" parallel fell into my lap, limited to a mere 99 copies.

The world of cardboard can be a crazy place sometimes.

However, even if I were to acquire the base card one day, I think I'd still like this black-bordered version a bit better.

The "darkness" does a tremendous job of bringing out the colors of this one, a way to really "frame" one of the most defining moments of baseball history.

Even so, this is almost as much a Yogi Berra card as it is a Don Larsen one. 

The famous "bear hug" that he bestowed upon Larsen moments after his famous perfect game in the '56 World Series will forever be seen as a major part of the moment. 

For better or worse, some ballplayers will only be remembered for one moment of their career.

Don Larsen certainly belongs to that group.

#33 -- 1994 Ted Williams #61 Billy Martin

In case you haven't seen, one of our fellow bloggers has been doing a monumental showcase of "double play" cards over the past few days. 

Go and check it out if you haven't already.

Seeing as how any Yankee card probably leaves a sour taste in the mouth of Dodgers collectors, I wouldn't expect this one to get much special recognition.

For my money, though, it's the greatest double play card in my collection.

I just don't know what to love most about it.

Is it the emphatic "out" signal being given by one of those awesome old-time suit-and-tied umps?

Is it the remarkable cloud of dust forming around Martin and the hapless sliding ballplayer beneath him?

Or is it the sheer action of the shot as a whole, one that perfectly personifies the "golden age" all-out style of play?

I just can't decide.

#32 -- 2010 Topps "Tales of the Game" #TOG-10 Jimmy Piersall

Quite often, people come up to me and ask...

"Nick, just who is this Jimmy Piersall guy, anyways?"

Okay, that's a lie. No one in my life has ever asked me a question relating in any way to Jimmy Piersall.

But, if they did, this would be the card I'd run to get. I can't think of anything that better defines who he was.

Sure, the guy had his problems.

More than that, though, Jimmy Piersall was someone who did things his own way. I think we're missing that a bit in sports these days.

Take his 100th homer, for instance.

He ran the bases backwards.

That is, "backwards" as in he had his back to home plate while completing his famous trek, not "backwards" as in he went 3rd, to 2nd, to 1st, as I had believed for so long. 

I've since acquired a card that showcases this very play in horizontal form, but I still like this colorized version better.

Plus, even with everything I've already mentioned, this is an ultra-rare "third-of-a-year" card. His tenure with the Mets was sandwiched between stints with the Senators and Angels in 1963.

His 100th homer was the only round-tripper he hit as a New York Met.

This card is nearly as awesome as awesome can be.

I can't really put it any better than that.

#31 -- 2007 UD Masterpieces #3 Bobby Thomson

By sheer coincidence, this group from the "Top 100" ended up consisting of mostly "legends".

Quite a few of them were members of the famous "moment in time" annals of cardboard as well.

It's fitting, then, that the finale to this post fits into both of those themes.

Although he's not a Hall of Famer, I've always considered Bobby Thomson to be a "legend" of the game.

And baseball has seen few greater "moments in time" than his famous pennant-clinching shot in 1951 against the Dodgers.

Because of that, it makes sense that this one would rank so highly in my "Top 100".

Unlike the cards I have of Carlton Fisk's famous homer or Willie Mays' immortal catch, I have quite a few different shots of Thomson's dinger in my collection.

Some feature him leaping into home plate and being mobbed by his teammates. A couple others picture him in the locker room after the game's finish.

In the end, though, I decided this would be the one to crack my "Top 100".

Baseball meant a lot to fans during the "Golden Age" of the game in the 1950's. People lived and died with their Giants or Dodgers.

The sheer exuberance of the fans on this one do a terrific job of conveying that very fact.

Not to mention the million-dollar smile creeping across Thomson's face.

You just couldn't get this type of shot from a football card. Or a basketball card. Or a hockey card.

This, more than anything else, is pure baseball.


Spiegel83 said...

A Don Larsen and a Bobby Thomson card in the same post. Ouch, your killing me , Nick.

Hahaha! The Jim Thorpe card kind of makes up for it. What other sets does he have baseball cards in?

William said...

Awesome stuff. That 1962 Topps Hoyt is a SP or something like that. I bet you'll have it knocked off of your list by this time next year.

tourist504 said...

That Prince Fielder is awesome. I will be looking out for one next time I pick up a pack of '12 Topps.

In all the repack boxes I have picked up this year, I find the photography in the 2011 Topps flagship set was pretty lacking, at least in what I saw. They really stepped it up this past year, and now I can't wait for 2013!