I understand that I can be kind of a quirky collector sometimes.
The way I do things often goes against the grain of other, more traditional methods in this hobby. It's hard to place my collecting habits under a single umbrella term.
If I had to, though, I'd say that I'm more of a player collector than anything else.
And, although I've never actually sat down and counted, I'd bet that I'm currently building over 300 player collections at the moment.
As if that wasn't wild enough, the players I actually chase after are quite the eclectic bunch. Aside from HOFers, I don't go after much of the "mainstream" in this hobby. I don't collect Derek Jeter or Chipper Jones.
I've always had a special interest in some of the "footnotes" from baseball history. Guys who are basically remembered for one, single, sometimes infamous moment in their careers.
I'm not saying there's anything wrong with collecting guys like Derek Jeter. Far from it. There's just something about those "footnotes" that continues to fascinate me to this day.
Take someone like Al Downing, for instance. Although the guy won 20 games in 1971, he'll probably forever be enshrined as a "footnote" in baseball history.
As many fans know, Downing was the unfortunate (or fortunate?) soul who served up Hank Aaron's record-breaking 715th homer on April 8th, 1974.
Ever since the first time I saw that famous video way back when, I knew guys like Downing were who I wanted to collect.
Please, don't get me wrong here.
I'm not trying to glorify John Rocker's on or off-field behavior in any way. Quite the opposite, actually.
Given how big of a basket case the guy was during his career, I can't help but be the slightest bit fascinated by his cardboard.
While he was a fairly effective reliever in his early years, most fans remember Rocker for his insensitive remarks about the citizens of New York City.
Pathetically, he's pretty much based his entire life around being a flat-out assh...or, rather, jerk.
Yeah, let's go with jerk.
Sometimes, a player will become known as a "footnote" due to a famous relative.
If I had any cards of Edgard Clemente, nephew of Roberto Clemente, I would've featured him in this post. Incidentally, I just discussed a few new pickups from the Pete Rose family earlier this week.
Had it not been for the awesome Conlon Collection checklist, I doubt I would've ever heard the forgotten tale of Earle Mack.
Thanks to the legendary managerial career of the great Connie Mack, most of you probably recognize the last name. Incidentally, Earle Mack here is the son of the former A's manager.
As the back of this piece notes, Earle served as the Athletics' bullpen catcher during his father's tenure with the club. Here's another great little nugget from this Conlon Collection card.
"On an early October day in 1910, long after Philadelphia had clinched the pennant, the A's players dared 20-year-old Earle to catch a game."
How awesome is that?
On top of getting to catch HOFer Eddie Plank, Mack also went 2-for-4 with a single and a triple that day. He'd play in four more games during his career in the early 1910's.
Given all that, Earle Mack will always be a "footnote" in my collection.
I'm sure we've all seen the famous clip.
During an afternoon game at the old Kingdome, then-Mariner Lenny Randle actually got down on his hands and knees and blew a ball foul.
Aside from the infamous Buckner play and Bobby Thomson's famous "Shot Heard 'Round the World", I may have seen that specific piece of video more times than any other in my lifetime.
Had it not been for that, Randle would probably be another forgotten name from the 1970's to me. That innocent little play, however, cemented his place in baseball lore.
As well as a place in my binders.
Incidentally, the world of baseball cards can sometimes create "footnotes" within itself.
I'd bet few remember Bob Floyd or Larry Burchart today. As far as their on-field performance goes, Floyd had an unspectacular seven-year career. Burchart's only big-league action would come during 29 games in 1969.
Despite the lack of a mustache, the third guy should be instantly recognizable to most fans. Despite its "shared" status, I feel proud to own a rookie card of Mr. Rollie Fingers.
These vintage multi-player rookies are responsible for quite a few "footnotes" in the hobby. I'd guess about 95 percent of the starry-eyed prospects on those things simply never panned out.
The lucky ones managed to create a name for themselves through the successes of others.
For whatever reason, some mediocre players received one, solitary awesome card during their careers.
I could probably come up with a decent amount of examples for this phenomenon.
As far as I'm concerned, though, the conversation begins and ends with Luis Alvarado.
I've featured this card on the blog quite a few times already. Given its legendary place in cardboard history, though, I doubt it's possible to actually get sick of seeing it.
For clarity's sake, I thought I'd note that Luis Alvarado hit just .214 in nine career big league seasons. I don't think I've ever seen any other cards of his, now that I think of it.
I would never go so far as to say anyone should own a particular piece of cardboard. However, if you happen to find this one in a discount vintage bin somewhere, I'd recommend pulling the trigger on it.
You, Mr. Alvarado, are a cardboard god.
I'm not sure it'd be possible to select a favorite "footnote", but this one might well be it.
Sometimes, all it takes is a brief moment in the sun to create a legend in this hobby.
Just ask Luis Alvarado.