Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Father knows best
I had another one of those days recently.
A couple weekends ago, I woke up with a passionate itch to bust something. Anything. I didn't much care what it was.
It's an epidemic that I'll bet most collectors have been afflicted with at some point.
So, as I got to the card aisle of my local Target with my dad that afternoon, I considered my choices. I didn't want to spend too much, so Heritage and Gypsy Queen were out.
I wanted to get bang for my buck, but, in a rare turn of events, I wasn't quite feeling a repack at that moment in time.
That's how I landed on four retail packs of Opening Day. At just a buck a piece, each seven-card pack was sure to quell my pack-busting itch.
While the repetitive base cards are my main knock against the product, I pulled quite a few neat ones from my Opening Day breaks, including my first card of R.A. Dickey as a Blue Jay.
This Cabrera, however, has to take the cake.
Topps did a magnificent job of giving the reigning Triple Crown winner proper recognition in 2013.
Against all odds, I think Opening Day has actually offered the best insert selection so far in 2013.
I'm not sure how many collectors would agree with me on that, though.
From the small sample I've seen, this year's "Play Hard" series features an absolute slew of awesome action shots.
This Ramirez is most definitely a "keeper" for my binders.
As I've mentioned over and over again around here, I've long been a devout fanboy of these "Superstar Celebrations" inserts.
While Mr. Verlander here helped knock out my newly beloved A's in last year's ALDS, I still can't help but be awestruck by this piece.
The rare Gerald Laird cameo is a pure bonus.
And, finally, these "Ballpark Fun" inserts are yet another terrific addition to the Opening Day brand.
While my feelings towards Alfonso Soriano has had its ups and downs during his time in Chicago, he's certainly had his moments. This terrific celebration shot easily makes for my new favorite Cubs card of his.
As I said, I ended up needing a bunch of the base cards from my Opening Day breaks. And, as it happens, every single insert I pulled was a "keeper".
Perhaps my 2013 pack-busting woes are finally over.
The fact that a product like Opening Day could cure something like that certainly came as a surprise for me.
Little did I know it wouldn't be the only surprise in store for me that day.
In the leadoff to one of my flea market posts, I mentioned how my plans to attend a recent Cubs game fell through, thanks to some uncooperative weather.
Any missed opportunity to attend a ballgame is devastating. However, the fact that I was going to miss out on the special 20-card giveaway Topps Archives set made this especially crushing.
Since the trek to Wrigley is about an hour bus ride from my house, braving the cold and rainy weather that day just wasn't in the cards. (And there's no way I'm driving to that ballpark. Finding parking is absolute torture.)
However, my dad happens to be a short ten-minute train ride away from the ballpark. Unbeknownst to me, he actually went to that Cubs-Reds contest on May 3rd, awful weather and all.
He gave me the ticket for proof.
Which meant that, yes...
I became the proud owner of the first Wrigley Field Topps Archives set!
The Cubs gave away the 20-card groupings to the first 10,000 people in attendance, but my dad said there wasn't anything close to that many fans at the ballpark that afternoon.
As it happens, the set was everything I expected it to be.
Not surprisingly, "Mr. Cub" himself kicked off the festivities. At card #1, the first Banks card in the series features him on the 1954 Topps design, which, if you'll remember, is home to his real rookie card.
It's always been a "pipe dream" of mine to acquire his '54 Topps issue.
For now, though, I'm certainly happy with this one.
One of the extremely few detractors of this set are the backs.
Regardless of the design featured on the front, each card's back takes a page from Topps' 1977 release. I know them well from reading the back of the Mark Fidrych rookie on oh-so-many occasions.
The "W Flag" cartoon is the same on each piece, as is the lack of stats.
...given how awesome the fronts are, I can't be disappointed with these at all.
As my dad would probably tell you, my eyes lit up with each passing card during my initial dig through the set. (With possible exception to the Sosa.)
Fergie, Santo, Kessinger, Dunston...the selection was just about as good as it could possibly be.
Although I've heard this from the few reviews I've read of these, it bears repeating.
Topps and the Cubs franchise struck gold with the inclusion of Bobby Murcer in this checklist. He wasn't a Cubbie for that long. A lot of people tend to forget that he even played for the North Siders.
As it stands, it's just the fourth card I own of Murcer as a Cub.
At first, I was confused as to why Topps would include multiple cards of guys like Castro and Dawson in an a fairly small 20-card set.
But, as I recently learned, there was a specific reason that each player was given a certain card number in the set, each of which correlates to a given date in the schedule.
Mark Grace (card #17), for example, represents May 5th, which was the Cubs' 17th home game of the season. Grace, of course, famously wore #17 for the majority of his career on the North Side.
Just within this first 20-card offering, Topps and the Cubs managed to showcase ten different Topps designs.
If I'm counting correctly, I see 1954, 1956, 1964, 1965, 1971, 1977, 1984, 1987, 1996, and...
At card #20, "Mr. Cub" also does the honor of closing out the initial Wrigley Field giveaway set.
While I am planning to attend the next Archives giveaway game (July 5th vs. the Pirates), I'm absolutely ecstatic to have this first batch of cards in my binders.
And, of course, it gave me great pleasure to be able to present them to you on the blog.
Through it all, though, it wouldn't have been possible without the efforts of my dad. Without him, I wouldn't have any of these in my possession right now.
Then again, that's the case for so many of the cards in my binders.
Without my dad, my collection would only be a shell of its current self.