Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A box from down under


I don't even know where to begin anymore.

I've already run through all the introductions I could possibly give for a brand new "box o' cards".

So I'll just say it.

Another bulging box of cardboard wound up on my doorstep yesterday. The fourth I've received over the past three weeks, in fact.

Did I mess the memo or something?

Is winter like an unofficial "box season" in the blogosphere?

That's the only possible reasoning I can come up with for the sudden barrage of "blogger boxes" I've gotten lately.

Either way, this box certainly had its fair share of adventures before winding up on my doorstep.

Why?

Because it arrived all the way from Austrailia. 

Yup. A box of cardboard from "down under".

How cool is that?

The culprit for this latest "blogger box" is one of the biggest "fans" I have in the blogosphere, as far as I can tell.

From the comments he has left on my posts over the past few months, we seem like very similar types of collectors. He likes "sunset" cards. He enjoys a good "short term stops" issue. And he can definitely appreciate some stellar photography.

The whole nine yards.

And, as if that weren't crazy enough, this particular collector and I share the same name.

Yes, folks, this box came courtesy of another Nick in the blogosphere, author of the terrific blog "Baseball Cards in Oz".

Okay, fellow readers. The time has come.

I hope you're up for yet another journey through yet another outstanding "blogger box".




Due to our eerily similar collecting habits, I couldn't wait to see what Nick had prepared.

Like with all the other trade packages I've received during my time as a blogger, I just knew there'd be a few gems for me to discover.

What I found inside, however, simply blew me away.

There were quite a few reasons for that. Reasons that I'll eventually discuss in the later reaches of this post.

One of the first "gems" I found was my first card of perhaps the greatest "baseball name" in history.

Wonderful Terrific Monds.

I'm not kidding. That's actually his name. You can look it up. Or you can even look at my newest "Dime Box Dozen" need on the sidebar.

Although he never made it to the bigs, I never thought twice about Mr. Monds.

With a name like that, he's definitely a "binder guy".

Incidentally, "wonderful" and "terrific" are only a few of the adjectives I'd use to describe this latest "box o' cards".




"Quirky" is definitely another term I'd use.

Being from Australia and all, Nick included a few authentic rugby cards in with all the other cardboard.

Frankly, I didn't even know they produced these things. And, even better, I am proud to say that these will always be remembered as the very first rugby cards in my collection.

I've always found it to be a fascinating sport. Although I have absolutely no idea on exactly how it's played, the few times I've watched rugby were quite captivating.

Pretty cool, wouldn't you say?




Having said that, let's get back to the baseball side of things.

Until the box actually arrived on my doorstep, I had absolutely no idea on what would be inside the thing. With one exception, anyways.

This one.

As a former "Dime Box Dozen" need of mine, Nick let me know that it would indeed be included in his "blogger box".

My term for this card, you ask?

Mind-blowing. Simply mind-blowing.

Score certainly gave the collector an "outside the box" take on Kenny Rogers's perfect game during the '94 season.

I could probably write an entire post on this card alone. I bet I will one day.

For now, though, I'll let it speak for itself.

I think it pretty much does that anyways.




As I mentioned before, Nick and I share a mutual interest in "short term stops" cards.

Unsurprisingly, I found quite a few in the box he sent me.

Of all of them, though, I think this Sutcliffe takes the cake. Up until last year, I had absolutely no idea that he ever played for the Cardinals.

To my surprise, I found that Mr. Sutcliffe did indeed spend his "sunset" season in St. Louis, going 6-4 for the Redbirds in '94.

All while still sporting that grizzly facial hair.




While I have often said that rookie cards are "overrated", don't let that fool you.

I still enjoy them a whole lot.

Landing a new rookie card for one of my many player collections still gives me quite a bit of joy. Much less one of the "bat barrel" variety, as we have with the Derrek Lee.

And, although I've never set out to specifically collect cards of Hideo Nomo, I am quite glad to finally have a rookie of his in my binders.

I can now honestly say that I own a piece of "Nomo-mania".




However, the "joys" of player collecting aren't limited to just rookie cards.

Far, far from it, actually.

Whether it's a base card, a "sunset" issue, or a high-dollar insert, any new addition to my variety of player collections is a happy addition for me.

Nick managed to hit quite a few of those as well, adding a variety of new pieces to my ever-expanding John Olerud and Mark Grace collections.

Still, these weren't even close to being the best part of the box.




You may have noticed a trend with the cards I've featured thus far.

1994 Bowman. 1995 Score. 1995 SP.

All cards from the mid '90s.

That was no accident, my friends. After all, the majority of the cards Nick sent me were those of the mid '90s variety.

I could not be happier about that.

I've often lamented about not being able to find cards from the mid '90s anywhere around these parks. My searches at shows and flea markets and such have turned up very little.

Because of that, you can imagine how excited I was to see a whole box of them wind up on my doorstep, ripe for the picking.

If it's possible for an entire era of the hobby to be underrated, I'd say the mid '90s are just that. Due to the fact that collecting was just emerging from the "bust" of the overproduction era at the time, they received very little fanfare in their day.

Despite the fact that my collection was lacking of the era, I'd always known of the amount of striking photography that made up many sets of the mid '90s.

If the above Gwynn is any indication, this box simply confirmed those thoughts.




Stadium Club in particular has been a tough draw for me.

Despite the "little of everything" that dime boxes can hold, they've still been fairly sparse from my experience.

I've always been a little saddened by that.

After all, the photography is arguably the greatest the hobby has ever seen. And, given the big photography nut I can be, I've long dreamt of digging through a big Stadium Club-filled dime box.

While that still hasn't come true, Nick managed to provide something just as good with this "blogger box".

I happily found a few hefty stacks of Stadium Club waiting for me.

This magnificent specimen has grown on my by the minute.

I can understand the slightly exasperated look on Dave Winfield's face here. It's pretty much exactly the look I'd imagine a big-time power hitter would give if he were asked to strike a bunting pose.

For the record, he did accrue 19 sacrifice bunts during his career.

Still, that comes from a career that featured over 12,000 plate appearances, mind you.




What an odd angle for a shot.

I love it.

While I've never had the privilege to sit in the front row at a ballgame, this card does indeed give the collector a view from the "best seat in the house".

I'd still like to see a game from the front row someday, though.




As I dug through the box a bit more, a thought quickly popped into my mind.

"The mid '90s sure had a lot of strange photography."




See?




I'd imagine that Upper Deck's "dated" series were quite the innovation back in 1997.

While I've heard different opinions on the subject during my time as a blogger, I can honestly say that I'm a gigantic fan of these.

Being able to pinpoint the specific moment in time a photo was taken is a remarkable feeling. 

The fact that '97 UD happened to include a great deal of jaw-dropping photography is simply icing on the cake.

I've seen this Hershiser featured on a few different blogs during my time around here. I'd been plotting to make it a "Dime Box Dozen" need for a while, in fact.

It was the very next card in line.

In terms of sheer photography, this may very well be as good as it gets. That "spotlight" effect certainly gives this one a unique feel.

Nick certainly hit a home run with this one.




Here's a similar shot taken from the very same game.

I still can't get over how friggin' awesome these are.




Amazingly, I had never seen this card prior to last afternoon.

Knowing my love for "sunset" cards, I'd guess that Nick never thought twice about adding this one to the box.

And I can't thank him enough for that.

This card of "The Wizard" himself takes its place as one of the more heroic "sunset" cards in my collection.

Aside from that, though, I think this one pretty much speaks for itself.




Although they never quite reached Upper Deck levels in the department, Topps did try their hand at producing "multiple exposure" cards for a few years.

These are certainly a few "trippy" pieces in their own right.

I know I have another copy of that Nilsson somewhere in my room. I've actually been planning to dig through my many "extras" boxes in search of it for a while now.

Thankfully, Nick just saved me a few hours of work.




Design-wise, 1995 might not have been the best year for Upper Deck.

However, the photography was still its usual spectacular self.

Take this one, for instance. 

Robb Nen was a premier relief pitcher for the Marlins back in the day.

Yet, instead of the usual pitching shots we've regularly seen over the years, UD chose to feature a shot of him sliding into second base.

Like so many other cards in my collection, words cannot describe how awesome this one truly is. I think you can pretty much see that for yourself.

I guess the only detractor is that teal Marlins jersey.

Man, those things were ugly.




I've actually wanted to land a copy of this one for a while.

It's Michael Jordan. Technically, that makes it a "zero-year" card as well. It's a new piece for my treasured "interview" collection.

And, to top it all off, the interview is being conducted by Mr. Harry Caray himself.

Well, that just about...

Whoops.

I forgot something.




Vintage?

VINTAGE!

Just when I thought my latest "blogger box" couldn't get any better, I found myself face-to-face with a large stack of sweet, sweet vintage.

My eyes widened in a combination of shock, happiness, and excitement.

Once I calmed myself down, I started to sift through the stack.

Still, try as I might, it didn't take long for me to become wide-eyed again.

Cards of "The Bird" have that effect on me.

Although I've never been that into anything of the "League Leader" variety, this was yet another piece I'd long wanted for my collection.

Incidentally, that kind of became a common theme with this array of vintage goodness.




Between a couple of the more iconic Red Sox cards of the '70s...




...and a couple of the best cards from the 1977 set, the selection of vintage Nick included in this "blogger box" is still staggering to me.

Even so, one particular piece managed to top them all.




Frankly, I'm amazed that I didn't have this one already.

This may be the most well-known card from the famous '77 set. The first card of "Reggie" in pinstripes. Airbrushed pinstripes, but still pinstripes nonetheless.

A card that I'm sure was flipped and traded many times among kids of the 1970's.

My dad has often told me that this was one of his most treasured cards as a kid growing up during the decade.

Now, I'm proud to finally say that "Reggie" is a sacred piece of my collection.

So, thank you, Nick.

For everything.

It's people like you who continue to make this hobby so much fun for me.

5 comments:

jaybarkerfan said...

Your writeups are awesome. You have a true passion for cardboard. This is why I believe you keep receiving these bulging boxes.

BASEBALL DAD said...

The mid '90's were awesome !

My boys were 8 and 11 in 1995, the Tribe was HOT and those were some of our greatest years together.

beefman said...

You're most welcome, Nick.

I'm very happy that you're deriving great enjoyment from these cards - think of them as 'Fan Mail'!

These cards sure have traveled some miles, haven't they! U.S.A. to somewhere in the Australian desert, then all the way back to the suburbs of Greater Chicago... Some humans never travel that far!

And again, I'm very glad you loved your 'Box From Down Under'.

Cheers,

Nick J

AdamE said...

I had that same Rice card in the stack I was going to send you.

The Underdog Card Collector said...

I've been intending to comment on this post for a few days...

Firstly, that's a stellar box of cards!

I have to agree with you, in the month I've been blogging now, I've been overwhelmed in the best of ways with the generosity of our card collecting crew and while I've not traded with anyone overseas yet, I'm looking forward to that.

That Grace as well as the Lankford card are nearly too awesome. If I had the Lankford in my collection, I might have to display it upside down for the effect. ; )