Here we are, folks.
Welcome to "The Top Ten".
Although the "one-and-done" Topps Ten brand is probably better off forgotten in the annals of cardboard history, I felt it was appropriate to feature one of my few pieces from the set tonight.
Enjoy it, Topps Ten. I doubt you'll show up much in the future of this blog.
Well, I don't want to keep you waiting much longer.
Let's take a trip into the top ten.
#10 -- 2005 National Pastime "Beltway Baseball" #BB-1 Ed Delahanty /202
Like the ill-fated Topps Ten brand, Fleer's National Pastime offering was also a short-lived product.
In 2005, it left the hobby after just two years on the market.
For the most part, I'm okay with that. The set wasn't anything to write home about, after all.
With one exception.
These "Beltway Baseball" inserts could well be the most well-designed insert set I've ever seen in this hobby. They've managed to stick in my memory without being too over-the-top in the process.
Plus, every single subject in the 20-card series is intertwined with the old Washington Senators franchises. Given my love for anything featuring defunct ballclubs, I fell in love with the set at first sight.
Especially this one of Mr. Delahanty, arguably baseball's biggest turn-of-the-century star.
I accidentally stumbled upon it during an otherwise innocent search through the Internet last year.
Accidentally or not, though, I knew that it was a card I absolutely needed to have in my collection at that very moment.
Given its severely limited print run, I felt extremely lucky to find one available copy floating around the world wide web.
At five bucks, Beckett might have you believe that I "overpaid" for it.
But you know what I think of Beckett by now.
I still feel that I got an absolute steal.
By my standards, only nine cards from the "modern era" can beat it.
#9 -- 2008 Topps "World Baseball Classic" #WBC-17 Frank Catalanotto
See, I was right.
I told you this card would rank highly in my countdown.
While some of the game's biggest stars won't be participating, I am still looking forward to this year's World Baseball Classic.
Yes, I'll be quite interested to seeing how the US fares this time around.
But, perhaps more than that, I'm excited to see what Team Italy has to offer.
As I've mentioned before, the vast majority of my family's heritage lies in Italy. And while baseball isn't all that popular over there, I think "Team Italia" might surprise a few people.
That's what I'm hoping, anyways.
Although 2008 might not have been the best year for Topps, they certainly scored points in my book for documenting the World Baseball Classic that year.
On top of that, they earned about a million more points for featuring Team Italy.
While Frank Catalanotto wasn't born in Italy, he certainly has a "pure Italian" name. I have to do the obligatory Italian hand gestures every time I say it.
I get a higher sense of familial pride every time I look at this one.
To see that big, bold "Italy" marker displayed across the top of one of my baseball cards is something else.
I'm sure this card didn't register on many collectors' radars back in '08.
Needless to say, it certainly registered on mine.
#8 -- 1999 SI Greats of the Game #23 Bill Lee
I've already featured this one on the blog a number of times.
I think you can see why.
In terms of sheer price, this is one of the biggest "steals" I've ever gotten in this hobby. Given that I plucked it from a 12/$1 bin at the National a few years ago, it only set me back about eight cents.
I'll say that again.
Lee is also one of the limited number of ballplayers I've had the chance to meet over the years.
I guess it's fitting that my dad was the one who snapped the memorable picture of myself and "The Spaceman".
After all, Lee was one of my dad's favorite players when he was a kid. As a result, he has always been one of mine.
Because of all that, having this card come in at number eight on this countdown was pretty much a no-brainer.
It tells you everything you need to know about "The Spaceman".
#7 -- 1994 Topps #715 Hank Aaron
I've witnessed a lot of historic moments throughout my life as a baseball fan.
Derek Jeter's famous "flip" in the '01 playoffs. The Red Sox's dramatic three-games-to-none comeback in '04. The White Sox's long-awaited World Series victory the very next year. Ichiro's overtaking of George Sisler for the single-season hit record.
The list goes on and on.
Through it all, though, the one moment I wish I could've seen first-hand is still Hank Aaron's 715th homer.
Although I don't know for certain, I'd wager that Babe Ruth's famous home run record was probably the most hallowed in all of sports at the time.
To see someone break such a distinguished mark must have been something else.
As much as I wanted it to, the whole Barry Bonds saga just didn't do a whole lot for me.
Hank Aaron's feat will always stand above all.
And so does this card.
Even though quite a few cards in my collection celebrate "#715", none of them does a better job with it than this one.
Not by a longshot.
Between the blinding glimmer of the lights, the panoramic view of the stadium, and the heroic shot of "Hammerin' Hank" himself, Topps absolutely knocked it out of the park with this outstanding piece of history.
True, I may not have been there to see this hallowed moment in 1974.
But owning this card is pretty much the next best thing.
#6 -- 1994 Topps Archives #251 Roberto Clemente
My "zero-year" theme was the very first series I introduced on this blog.
I featured everyone from Ray Oyler to Andre Ethier in those posts.
Honestly, I don't care who it is.
Every "zero-year" card is special to me.
Now, when we're talking about a "zero-year" card of my all-time favorite ballplayer, well...
That goes beyond the word "special" in my eyes.
Back in 1994, Topps released reprint sets of both their 1953 and '54 offerings.
However, what made them so intriguing was the fact that they tossed a few "faux-reprints" into the fold.
This particular card never actually existed. Clemente's official rookie card comes from 1955, by which time he was a Pittsburgh Pirate.
The fact that he was in the Dodgers' organization for a short time often gets overlooked in baseball history. This particular shot captures him during his tenure with the Brooklyn-affiliated Montreal Royals in 1954, the only year he'd spend in the minors.
Although they tried to "hide" him, the Pirates plucked Clemente from the Dodgers in what is now the "Rule 5" draft later that year.
The rest is history.
I don't think a word exists to describe my utter appreciation for this one. It's like a dream come true for me.
I mean, it's a "zero-year" card of Roberto Clemente!
It's "Top Ten" status was never in much doubt.
Frankly, I'm a little surprised that I actually picked five "modern" cards over this one.
So, what are they?
You'll have to tune in next time to find that out.