Monday, April 8, 2013

My cardboard curriculum

Barring any unforeseen circumstances, my community college days will be over after this semester.

During my high school years, I completely avoided the thought of ever attending a community college. I jumped right into a four-year college after graduation, a decision which I still consider to be the biggest mistake of my life.

Attending community college has been a lot better than I ever thought it'd be. If any high schoolers are reading this, I'd urge you to look further into them upon graduation.

Still, while community college has had its positives, I'm definitely looking forward to jumping back into a four-year university next semester. I just applied to my school of choice last night.

Strangely enough, all this continuous pondering about school and my future actually swung its way back into the world of cardboard. It seems like a lot of my thoughts have a tendency to do that.

Wouldn't it be neat if there was some sort of card-centric college degree out there? And, if so, what kind of classes would it entail?

Sure, the thought of a cardboard curriculum is a bit farfetched. Still, there's something comforting in thinking about what it'd be like to pack up after a hard day's work in the card industry, much like Mr. Sorrento there.

Call me a teacher's pet, but I doubt I'd ever want to leave school if that were the case.

When registration time came around, these would probably be the classes I'd take.

UNI 202: Analyzing the career paths of past and present major leaguers

I have long had an obsession with tallying the number of different uniforms players donned during their respective careers.

From what the school catalog tells me, this class would encompass everything from one-team legends like Brooks Robinson to some of the most well-traveled players in the bigs.

It'd be neat to analyze how much more often guys seem to switch teams these days.

Word is that the teacher makes you list each of Octavio Dotel's thirteen big-league teams on the final.

I'll have to study for that one.

BUS 201: A behind-the-scenes look into the business of baseball cards

I've always wondered one thing about this hobby.

How many copies of each base card in Flagship or Heritage are manufactured?

And, along with that, what does it actually mean to have a short-printed card?

I know this 2009 Topps Heritage Billy Butler is listed as a SP, but I'd like to know just how many copies are in existence.

The business of the hobby as a whole intrigues me. I've always wanted to know how companies decide which sets to launch and which to leave on the cutting room floor. Or how they decide which players to include in a given checklist.

Things like that.

At first, there was a bit of a waiting list for this one.

All I had to do was slip the registration head a couple of Heritage rack packs, and boom, I was in.

VINT 155: Vintage appreciation

Like almost every other student in the history of...ever, I had to take one of those "art appreciation" classes in high school.

I had exactly zero interest in that class. I'm generally a good student, but about 90 percent of my "appreciation time" was pretty much spent screwing around with my friends. (The teacher was kind of a jerk, I might add.)

Somehow, I still managed to pull a B.

Needless to say, if baseball cards had somehow made an appearance in that class, I probably would've paid a lot more attention to each lesson.

Luckily, I stumbled upon a "vintage appreciation" course in my search through the college catalog. I knew it was the class for me.

I'm guessing it'll be a pretty easy A, but I could honestly care less about the grade when it comes to well-loved vintage.

In more ways than one.

FILM 101: Baseball cards on the silver screen

The appearance of cardboard is enough to get my attention during a movie.

A simple utterance of the phrase "baseball cards" is all it takes. Dumb and Dumber fans might remember a brief reference to the hobby within the film, just one of its many memorable lines of dialogue.

Near the beginning of the Tom Hanks movie Big, there's a moment that features the two kids emerging from what looks to be a corner store of some sort. 

The kid that eventually becomes Tom Hanks's character is seen opening a pack of baseball cards, doing the "Got it...Got it...Need it" routine. I've always appreciated little things like that.

And, of course, there's a reference to Hank Aaron's 1954 Topps rookie in my all-time favorite flick, The Sandlot. 

Near the end of the dream sequence in which "The Great Bambino" himself offers advice to Benny, "The Jet", he looks at the Aaron rookie and says, "I don't know why, but can I have this?"

It's one of my favorite parts of the movie.

I'm sure there are quite a few cardboard references in films I haven't yet seen.

That's why I jumped at the chance to take this class.

DIME 366: How to get the most out of your dime box experience

When I was in "Dime Boxes 101", all they taught me were the basic ins and outs of the world of dime cards.

And a little obligatory math. (Yes, if I buy 100 dime cards, they'll set me back ten bucks. I know.)

As I've climbed up the dime box ladder, though, the classes have gotten a lot tougher. And way more interesting. This class is certainly shaping up to be a good one.

I've already learned a lot from it.

For years, I thought buying cards for personal player collections was the only purpose dime boxes served. While that's still a part of my typical dime bin experience, I've come to see it as a lot more than that.

Before, I never used to "hunt" for other people. Each of the cards I'd purchase were specifically for my own collection. And no one else's.

These days, though, I get a great deal of enjoyment out of finding cards for other bloggers. Thinking "Ooh...I bet so-and-so is going to love this one" is a great feeling.

In terms of personal shopping, dime boxes can do a lot more than hit simple player collection needs. I've never collected Larry Walker, but I felt absolutely compelled to snag this one from the dime box depths at my recent card show.

It's simply an awesome action shot. And one that took place at Wrigley Field, no less.

As you might guess, dime boxes are currently my area of major at cardboard university. That shouldn't come as a surprise.

I'm planning on becoming a professional dime box hunter one day.

I'm not sure what I'll do with the degree, but I know it's my life's passion.


Backstop Cards said...

I've always wondered how they came up with the card number for each player. A lot of Fleer sets just went a team at a time, in alphabetical order, which seems a little unoriginal, but makes a lot of sense.

ali naqvi said...

This is really interesting post.. it's different info regarding cards.. i really appreciating your work..!!!

P-town Tom said...

Sign me up for VINT 155. That class sounds frickin' awesome!

The Junior Junkie said...

I did the same thing. Almost a full year into community college in New Orleans, I applied to LSU and was living in a dorm a few years later. It was one of the best moves I've made. I met my wife and a whole lot of my current friends.

Where did you apply?

The Junior Junkie said...

I said years - I meant months.

Nick said...

I applied to Northeastern University, it's right around the Chicago area.

While they unfortunately don't have any dorms, they have an exceptionally good teaching program, which is what drew me to it in the first place.