I love this place.
I really love this place.
During my time here, the blogosphere has inspired me on a regular basis. Numerous different blogs have forced me to look at my collection in ways I never did before.
I search for that "inspiration" several times a day.
Minutes after I wake up in the morning, I read through my blogroll. Minutes before I go to bed at night, I do the same.
The blogosphere has acted as an "outlet" of sorts for my many thoughts and takes on this hobby. Whether it's through solid, thorough writing or incoherent babble, I enjoy doing it every single day.
Needless to say, I appreciate every one of you who continue to read this blog on a regular basis.
And, perhaps best of all, people just give you stuff from time to time.
Sometimes, if you're lucky, you can find yourself on the winning end of one of the many contests around here.
Contests that don't require an "entry fee" or anything. A couple taps of your keyboard, a quick click of the mouse, and you're in.
Now, I can't say that I have any "secrets" to winning these contests.
All I can say is keep chugging along. Sooner or later, your time will come.
The time when you'll get to enjoy the sweet thrill of victory.
It took me a while to win my first contest around here. Luckily, though, I've been on a bit of a roll in the last couple months.
On a whim, I decided to enter a contest held over at "All the Way to the Backstop..." last month. Author Marcus and his significant other were expecting their second child at the time.
Being the generous person he is, Marcus offered free cards to anyone who could guess the name of their (then) future child. As you can see in the post, he offered a "hint" through a variety of Padres cardboard.
After eliminating names like "Bip" and "Goose" from the running, I took a wild guess with "Alan", the first name of former Padres pitcher Alan Foster.
As it turns out, I was half right.
Marcus and his wife decided to name their kid Foster, one that I hear is doing well in his first months of life.
Being the awesome person he is, Marcus decided to grant me the "prize package" anyways, even though I didn't get the name exactly right.
I wasn't sure what to expect from my "winnings".
What popped out of my mailbox last afternoon still managed to catch me completely off-guard, though.
The massive, card-filled box of goods you see above was indeed my big "prize" from Marcus. It might well be the most cardboard I've ever received in one sitting.
Needless to say, I found a whole bunch of little "gems" for my collection inside.
Truthfully, I could easily break this thing up into two posts.
But I want you to really get a grasp of just how much awesomeness Marcus sent my way. So it'll all go into a single post.
Get ready, because this is going to be a bit of a marathon.
Still with me?
We kick off the "winnings" with a now-former member of my "Dime Box Dozen" list.
Although I've acquired a nice chunk of '93 Upper Deck cards over the years, this one somehow managed to elude my clutches.
Mike Stanton (the pitcher) is indeed a "binder guy", which made this one a must-have for me.
As I've mentioned before, I'm a big fan of "autograph" shots. Judging from the amount of fans lined up along the railing, Mr. Stanton was quite the popular Brave.
However, as you might be able to guess, what really makes this card is that sign. How often do you see the name of the featured player scribbled onto a sign in the background of a baseball card?
I've sure never seen it before.
I can tell that Marcus took a glance at my "set needs" page in preparation for this package.
He managed to knock a couple cards off my Panini Cooperstown wants with this pair of legends. Any day I can add new pieces of Warren Spahn and Frank Robinson to my collection is a good day.
Needless to say, I'm looking forward to seeing what Panini has in store for 2013.
Marcus even managed to add a few "elegant" pieces to some of my most expansive player collections.
Oddly enough, I like the parallels way better than the base cards when it comes to Piece of History. Those blue borders are simply fantastic.
I gave up trying to track all the Diamond Kings parallels long ago. Although it's definitely a nice set, there's just too many of them.
Still, I'd be lying if I said I didn't like the "frame" on that Marlon Byrd piece. It makes it seem like a priceless piece of art.
I'm almost scared to touch it now.
These were the very first pieces I pulled out of Marcus's big box o' cards. When in doubt, start with minis.
That's my motto.
Although both of these are welcome new additions to my collection, I'm way more enamored with the Foxx than anything.
It's a Hall of Famer, a mini, and a short-print, all rolled into one.
What more do you need?
I kind of miss the Topps 206 set. Even if the whole "throwback" thing is a tad overdone these days, it still beats the heck out of Gypsy Queen.
That's for sure.
From what I can gather, Marcus does read this blog from time to time.
He's been a regular commenter for a few months now, something for which I vehemently appreciate.
In that time, I guess he picked up on my fascination with "legends". And perhaps my love for Conlon Collection as well.
I've had a tough time finding any of those burgundy parallels from Conlon Collection over the years. Which made the half-dozen that Marcus included all the more awesome.
Besides, how often do you see cards of Joe Sewell anymore?
I mean, the man struck out just 114 times in 7,132 career at-bats. That's got to be recognized every now and again, right?
At the same time, I'm a big fan of those quirky "hologram" cards. Especially ones of Hall of Famers like Cy Young.
Still, the hologram portion of it ended up taking second billing.
The back is what made the card for me.
Notice anything strange about it?
Take a look at the nickname.
I have never, ever heard Cy Young referred to by that. I would've thought they'd just list "Cy" as his nickname.
I really don't want to know how he earned that label.
Enough about foxy grandpas, though.
Let's take a look at a few good ol' "unfamiliar uniform" pieces.
Strangely enough, both of these guys have become relatively successful managers in recent years.
Although Dusty Baker spent two whole seasons in Oakland to close out his career, the green-and-gold will always look a little off to me.
That's nothing compared to Kirk Gibson as a Pirate, though.
I'd bet that most fans didn't even know of his tenure in Pittsburgh. Seeing as how it consisted of just 16 games in 1992, I can't say I'd blame them.
His '92 Stadium Club issue is the only card I've seen of him in the uniform. Although I'd known of that card's existence for a while, it completely slipped my mind when I got around to composing my "Dime Box Dozen" list.
Needless to say, it was one of the highlights of my "winnings".
No, we're not even close to finished with the "goods" Marcus sent my way.
Like I said, he managed to put together an absolutely fantastic array of cardboard. One that included quite a few pieces of past hometown "legends".
Luis Aparicio definitely accounts for a lot of the "star power" in my White Sox binders. I've always had a soft spot for anything from those old-time Galasso Glossy Greats sets.
And although I've never specifically set out to collect Harold Baines, I still feel proud to have a rookie card of his in my collection.
Besides, anything from '81 Fleer is always welcome in this household.
Although I can definitely appreciate the South Siders, my heart has always been with the Cubs.
For better or worse. But mostly worse.
I've somehow managed to already land more than 50 different cards of Mr. Castro for my collection. I'm not sure whether that speaks for my fandom of his or the amount of cards he's had these last few years.
Probably a little of both.
This black-bordered parallel will look terrific next to my base Heritage card of his in my Cubs binder.
It was the best Cub I received from Marcus.
Or, at least it would've been...
...had this one not fallen out of the box about halfway through.
Apparently, former outfielder Dwight Smith was a singer in his spare time. The Cubs even let him sing the National Anthem on Opening Day in '91.
This one just adds to the amount of great pieces I've been able to add to the "band".
I guess Smith can sing harmonies with Roy Lee Jackson.
They're set to cut an album in the spring.
This package from Marcus included a great deal of inspiration.
Some of that inspiration convinced me to make Anthony Rizzo my newest "binder inductee".
He's a surefire power hitter. He looks to be a legitimate piece of the Cubs' future. And he's playing for Team Italy in this year's World Baseball Classic, a country from which much of my heritage lies.
What more does a guy have to do?
So, as always, if you have any cards of Mr. Rizzo lying around, please feel free to send them my way.
For now, this "fine" Finest rookie card definitely makes for a good start.
More than anything else, I've been astounded by the "little of everything" that bloggers have sent my way over the past year.
I thought I had a good handle on all the "fun" cards on the market, but many of you have shown me that there's so much more to be discovered.
You've taken the "little of everything" to a whole other level.
Before I joined the blogosphere, I had never seen this "flying bat" card of Greg Myers. Luckily, quite a few bloggers chose to enlighten me.
Marcus is about the third or fourth different person to have sent me this card in the last year.
Although I've accumulated "triples" and "quadruples" of Mr. Myers by now, I'm still appreciative of every single copy in my collection.
If you're a "little of everything" fan, then these next few scans are just for you.
As you'll see, Marcus really knocked it out of the park with that concept.
He managed to include everything from "flying bats"...
...to throwbacks and cackling catchers.
Everything from my adored "multiple exposure" cards...
Hall of Fame oddballs, at that.
Everything from the always captivating sport of dressage...
...to autograph shots and funny glasses.
He even included everything from presidents...
...to really bad hair.
As you might guess, it wasn't easy to crown a "king" from this terrific assortment of cardboard.
Still, one particular card did manage to separate itself from the rest.
One that I've wanted for a long, long time.
Not surprisingly, it features a new "band" member.
Probably the most accomplished one of all.
Know who it is?
That's former White Sox hurler "Black Jack" McDowell, strumming a nice twelve-string acoustic guitar and sporting a very Bueller-like vest.
I'd always known of McDowell's musical ties, but I always figured it was kind of like a "side project" of his. However, the back of this card references the fact that his band, V.I.E.W., opened for noted rock band The Smithereens in '91.
I'm lovin' Pinnacle more and more every day. Although I can see why others might not like it all that much, I'm a big fan of this "Sidelines" subset.
It helped me add two new members to the "band", after all.
Marcus, I cannot tell you just how much I enjoyed going through all these cards. It was truly an awesome experience.
I could not be happier with the "spoils".
The blogosphere really is the place to be, people.