Thursday, May 30, 2013

Dime Box Heroes: Matchmaking

2010 Tristar Obak Mini #22 Wally Pipp

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As a collector, I wear many different hats.

Perhaps my most prominent one involves the "treasure hunter" within me. Knowing how many surefire gems I've "saved" from the dime box depths over the years gives me an inordinate amount of joy.

Yes, I may wear the "hoarder" hat from time to time as well. No matter how hard I try, I must have every single dime card I come across of guys like Vlad Guerrero and Kenny Lofton.

Perhaps the strangest hat I've worn during my dime box quests over the years is that of "matchmaker".

Specifically, I absolutely love finding cards that can sit next to each other in each of my binders and live happily ever after. 

It pains me to know that cards like Wally Pipp's 2010 Obak mini still exist within my collection. Unfortunately, the dime box gods have yet to grant me the happiness of finding the regular-sized base version.

Still, I can't be too mad. Dime boxes have certainly found their fair share of matches for my collection over the years.

And they've taken quite a few different forms.

In rare cases, matches can simply consist of eerily similar photos from different companies.

These hit their heyday in the early '80s and never really returned. One of the more striking examples involves Rod Carew's 1982 Fleer and Topps "In-Action" duo.

While they were rival companies at the time, both ended using the exact same photo for their releases that year. I guess some photographer sold the shot to both Fleer and Topps at some point that year.


These types of matches are what I like to call the "offshoots".

Up until a few years ago, we had quite the competition of Flagship sets in this hobby. Topps, Upper Deck, Bowman, etc.

Unfortunately, many of those brands triggered offshoot releases that were basically variations of the same exact thing. Think Opening Day, UD First Edition, Bowman Chrome, those types of deals.

While I've never placed too much emphasis on busting much of those "offshoot" products, I've never been one to turn them down in dime boxes.

When it comes to binders, they're like matches made in heaven.

Perhaps the most common type of match I've found over the years is the base/parallel combo.

I love pairing up an ordinary base card with a suave parallel version from time to time. The many colored parallels from '06 UD Special F/X have always been personal favorite matches of mine for the ol' binders.

Oh, and if you're a "thowback" collector such as myself, you might want to pick this one up someday.

The release of Topps Fan Favorites forced me to add yet another aspect to my matchmaking services.

As you might know, Fan Favorites is one of the most legendary sets ever unleashed onto the market. The checklist features different photos of past legends on classic Topps designs.

In recent dime box hunts, I've made it a mission to pair up the real vintage versions with their Fan Favorites counterparts. Thus far, I'd say I've done a pretty good job.

I especially enjoy this '74 Topps-themed Luis Tiant combo. Real on the left, Fan Favorites on the right.

And a whole lot of awesome in between.

Arguably the most prideful part of my matchmaking these days is the hallowed real/reprint pairing.

While on the same wavelength as the aforementioned Fan Favorites combos, these have made for some of my favorite "binder duos" for as long as I can remember.

I plucked Bud Harrelson's 2002 Topps Archives reprint (of his '70 Topps issue) from a dime box a while ago. Since the real thing was a tough-to-find high-number (#634), I figured the task of finding a match for it was a long shot.

But, lo and behold, I scored a well-loved copy of it from a flea market quarter bin a couple years back. As one of the more aged "autograph" shots in existence, it was a dream come true for me.

I'm not sure what it is about the real/reprint combo that gives me such pleasure. Heck, I'm not sure why I enjoy any of these pairings so much.

In the end, I guess just knowing that you've found a perfect binder match for one of your favorite pieces of cardboard is a special feeling.

So, while the tale of mini-Wally Pipp doesn't yet have a happy ending, I'm sure the dime box gods have tucked the base version of it somewhere around these parks. It's just a matter of finding it.

As a matchmaker, that's my job.


JediJeff said...

Collect? I'll just wait for you to send my that throwback card.

No.... not that one. With the numbers on the front. Riiiiiight.

petethan said...

That Carew wasn't the only double-dipper in the '82 In Action subset. Topps reused its photo of Pops Stargell from the '81 base set. Looks like the Topps employees could have benefited from getting into a little more action themselves.