1980 Laughlin Famous Feats #4 Hack Wilson
Epiphanies don't come along too often in this hobby.
At least for me, anyways.
Although my interests continue to be an ever-expanding group, I've had a fairly good grasp on what I've liked and disliked during my entire collecting career.
On top of that, I've always known what I wanted to collect and what I didn't.
I've always had a deep appreciation for Hall of Famers. Always have, always will. Those select few Cooperstown inductees have been a prime part of my collection for as long as I can remember.
However, I've never liked chasing low-numbered parallels. While I can enjoy the world of serial-numbered cardboard, the unnecessarily scarce pieces have never captured my interest.
They barely even register a "blip" on my collecting radar.
For a long time, cartoonish cardboard belonged to that category as well.
Given all the actual, tangible photos featured on cards in my collection, I often questioned whether or not cartoons were even worthy of a spot in my binders.
For a long time, I omitted them all together.
Needless to say, that train of thought closed me off from spectacular aspects of this hobby.
These days, I can't seem to get enough of cartoon cards.
Lately, I've taken to crediting Panini's innovative Triple Play release with changing my feelings on the topic.
While the set did certainly play a large role in that shift, I've recently realized that other forces were present in the matter.
In fact, I can trace it to a single moment and place in time.
Specifically, I can draw the line to a flea market dime box from a couple years ago, way before I even started this blog.
One sunny Sunday afternoon, I was scavenging through one of the regular vendor's usual dime box treasures, just like always. I'd already had a fairly large stack of cardboard present in my "purchase pile".
As I was getting ready to pay for my goods, however, I noticed something strange peeking out of the last dime box. Something I hadn't noticed before.
Upon closer examination, I found that I'd missed a fairly substantial stack of cartoonish cards.
The scribbled face of Hall of Famer and not-so-common dime box "hero" Hack Wilson stared up at me. Because of that, I figured they were at least worth a look.
Initially, I wasn't all that excited about them. I'd never even heard of this "Famous Firsts" set at the time. But, since many of the ones featured my precious Cooperstown inductees, I felt a slight obligation to buy them.
So I did.
For a buck or two, the vendor let me take home around twenty of these strange pieces of cardboard.
In the days following the purchase, I filed the cartoonish pieces away in my binders.
After that, I pretty much forgot about them.
Over time, though, a funny thing started to happen.
As I'd flip through my binders in the following months, I came to appreciate these cartoons more and more with each passing day.
I couldn't explain it. Something about Casey Stengel's elongated face just started to grow on me, I guess.
Besides, a little humor in this hobby never hurt anyone. People need a good laugh when it comes to baseball cards on a fairly regular basis, don't they?
These certainly gave my collection the exact dosage of humor it needed.
"Hack" and "Casey" had done it.
They actually made me like cartoon cards.
Triple Play pretty much transformed my "liking" cartoonish pieces to flat-out love.
As a result, I'm excited to see what Panini's 2013 version of the set has to offer. They're slated to come out next month.
I'm definitely looking forward to it.
More than almost any other brand this year, in fact.
Yes, it's true.
Whether they feature freakishly large heads on tiny bodies...
...or just provide the collector with a corny old comic strip, I've come to realize what special pieces these are.
Every hobby needs a little humor. These certainly give the world of baseball cards a good laugh.
Because of that, I'm not afraid to say it these days.
I love cartoonish baseball cards.