Tonight, I'll be revealing the final region from the "Gems of Junk Wax" tournament field of 64. After this, we'll be off to the "Terrific 32".
Voting on this round of matchups closes this Satuday, May 4, at 11:59 PM. The polls are currently up on the sidebar.
We have quite a few stellar parings here, so let's get started.
#1 seed -- 1988 Topps #18a Al Leiter ERR RC
#16 -- 1988 Topps #543 Kent Tekulve
This region's first matchup is the "battle of the '88s".
While it's certainly not among my favorite Topps sets or anything, the blogosphere has gotten me to appreciate '88 Topps a little more.
These are two of my personal favorites from the checklist. The Leiter is a coveted "player swap" error, as the person pictured is actually career minor-leaguer Steve George, who was in the Yankee organization at the time.
And, as far as I'm concerned, every Kent Tekulve one is a masterpiece.
Especially one that features those awesome powder-blue Phillies jerseys.
#8 -- 1987 Topps #653 Kevin Mitchell RC
#9 -- 1994 Ted Williams #61 Billy Martin
Personally, I think this is the best matchup this region has to offer.
In an odd coincidence, the randomizer I used pitted two dirt-centric cards against each other in this tournament. One old school, one (fairly) new school.
Needless to say, I'm quite interested to see how the voting plays out with this one.
#5 -- 1992 Topps #40 Cal Ripken Jr.
#12 -- 1990 Topps #278 Pascual Perez
Thus far, it seems like every region has had one wildly lopsided matchup.
While the Jehri-curls are good for a laugh, I think we all know who'll emerge victorious here.
#4 -- 1994 UD All-Time Heroes #1 Ted Williams OW
#13 -- 1994 Topps #20 Bryan Harvey
On paper, this looks to be a fairly comfortable victory for the "Splendid Splinter".
Still, you never know. There's something about the "water vapor" photo effect on Harvey's '94 Topps card that's simply hypnotizing.
Now, will it be hypnotizing enough to push past a pitching Ted Williams in this matchup?
I sure don't think so.
But that's why I'm leaving the voting up to you, and not me.
#6 -- 1994 Conlon Collection #1260 Fred Merkle
#11 -- 1993 Topps #200 Kirby Puckett
The Puckett is, of course, one of the most beloved cards of the overproduction era.
In contrast, the Merkle is one of the better-kept secrets. I'd never seen his Conlon piece before I plucked it from a flea market 12/$1 bin a couple years ago. But I've been in love with it ever since.
While I'm not sure that the Merkle has enough strength to win this matchup, I hope he can at least keep it close.
Granted, though, it's going to take a lot to knock Mr. Puckett out of this tournament.
#3 -- 1993 Donruss #261 Brent Mayne
#14 -- 1992 Stadium Club #520 Wade Boggs
Interestingly enough, Brent Mayne's 1993 Donruss issue was one of the first cards I featured in my "Gems of Junk Wax" theme.
It's hard to tell exactly what's going on in that shot. I'd always assumed the umpire was restraining him from going at an opposing player, although there's a possibility that he's being separated from an argument with the home plate ump as well.
Either way, it's a neat piece of cardboard.
Still, Mayne faces some stiff competition with Mr. Boggs. I've professed my love for his '92 Stadium Club card on many occasions around here.
It's one of the strangest, yet spectacular, celebration shots I've ever seen in this hobby. Heck, it's one of the stranger shots I've seen, period.
I'm not sure we'll ever see another card quite like it.
#7 -- 1991 Ultra #296 Ozzie Smith
#10 -- 1992 Donruss Triple Play #227 Sandy Alomar Jr.
"The Wizard of Oz" is responsible for Ultra's lone entry into this tournament.
All told, Smith has to be the best-fielding shortstop this game has ever seen. To this day, I haven't seen a card do a better job of conveying that than his '91 Ultra issue. (One that features a nice Wrigley Field shot as well, by the way.)
The Alomar was a bit of a late entry. He got in after I realized that I'd accidentally entered two different Wrigley Field pieces into the tournament.
Still, win or lose, it's safe to say that he (and his son) deserve a place in these brackets.
#2 -- 1989 Upper Deck #755 Jim Abbott RC
#15 -- 1992 Classic #T80 "Deion Drops In"
I think most of my readers know where I stand on this matchup.
Still, there's something to be said about that "Prime Time" piece as well. It's one of the extreme few plane-themed pieces I own, one that chronicles his frequent trips between Atlanta Falcons practices and Atlanta Braves playoff contests in 1991.
But, I'm a proud longtime Jim Abbott fan. His '89 Upper Deck piece features one of my treasured "multiple-exposure" shots.
And Upper Deck crammed all that awesomeness into his rookie card, for goodness sake.
It'd be an easy choice for me.
But, again, that's why I'm leaving the vote up to you, fellow reader.
Well, there you have it.
The final matchups from the field 64 are in.
Now hit those polls!