Sunday, May 12, 2013
The "Holy %$^&!!" boxes, Pt. 4
Before I start, I'd like to wish a very happy Mother's Day to all the great moms out there.
When it comes to this little hobby of mine, I know it hasn't always been easy on my mom. While I consider myself to be fairly organized, I still have cards scattered around the house quite a bit.
That's not even mentioning the boxes and boxes of spare cardboard strewn across my room. Under my bed, in my closet, on my dresser, you name it.
And, of course, there are those couple binder-filled bookshelves in my room. As any fellow binder fanatic will tell you, they take up quite a bit of space. (Although they're totally worth it.)
Through it all, though, my mom has been fully supportive of this hobby since day one. She's put up with a lot of my cardboard clutter in recent years. That's for sure.
When these four massive boxes arrived on my doorstep a few weeks back, she could've easily thrown up her hands in disgust and said, "MORE CARDS?!?!?! You don't have room for more cards, young man!! Get rid of them!"
To her credit, she recognized how big of a mailday it was for me and was genuinely interested in what I found. I remember her commenting on the height differential between Reds hurlers Ron Robinson and John Franco on the "Leaders" card you see above.
She certainly has a good eye when it comes to cardboard.
The fourth and final box from the ever-generous Mark may well have been the best one.
As you'll soon see, it resulted in easily my best find of the whole experience. For now, though, let's focus on these two terrific adds to my Phillies binder.
The Carlton confused me at first. I'd never seen anything from '83 Topps that had one of those stat lines in the top-left corner.
After a little research, however, I found that it was actually a portion of a "League Leaders" uncut sheet that was issued by Topps in '83.
These boxes proved to be both interesting and educational.
I'm starting to think Jim Kern was a ringer for the House of David ballclub.
Epic beards and wildly out-of-focus photos are just a couple of the many things that make '81 Fleer so lovable.
And, to my knowledge, that's the first card of the infamous Stan Papi in my collection. In a now-infamous swap, the Red Sox dealt fan favorite Bill "Spaceman" Lee to the Expos for Papi, a weak-hitting infielder.
More from early Donruss.
I still can't help but laugh every time I see a Mike Tyson card.
This pair represents perhaps the most drastic year-to-year design shift in cardboard history.
I've always wondered how Fleer went from producing a downright mediocre set in '83 to such a clean and awesome design in '84.
To me, Fleer hit their peak in 1984. And it's not much of a contest.
Plus, between the red Expos jersey and the batting cage backdrop, the Raines is one of the better cards I've seen from the set.
As you might have noticed, "Holy %^&$!!" box #3 lacked a "sleeve treatment" nominee.
However, this final box more than made up for that with a pair of protected cards.
Given that he was probably the most dominant pitcher of his era, the Clemens is an obvious choice.
And, from what I know, Travis Fryman was a highly-touted prospect back in the day, which explains the "sleeve treatment" on his '92 OPC piece.
Although I'm not sure how illustrious the 30-cent price tag really is.
A good quarter of this last box was packed with '91 Studio.
During the earlier days of this blog, I denounced nearly everything having to do with the brand. An entire set centered around studio shots had absolutely no place in this hobby, as far as I was concerned.
While the concept of an entirely studio-based set still isn't all that attractive to this collector, I've started to appreciate the overproduction-era Studio releases more and more in recent months.
True, an action shot is almost always preferred. But that doesn't mean studio shots can't have their moments of glory.
Just take a look at that "Black and Decker" card in the middle-right. Or Steve Lake's awesome bird-themed card, one that emphasizes his hobby of bird watching.
You couldn't get those from your everyday action shots.
This, however, was easily my favorite from the chunk of Studio cards.
After all, it's my very first card of former Angels coach Jimmie Reese. Who, I may add, has one of the better stories in baseball history.
A former roommate of Babe Ruth's during his brief playing days, Reese became a conditioning coach for the Angels in 1972.
He actively served on the Angels staff until his passing in 1994. When this card was released, Reese was ninety years old.
And, yes, the back of this card notes that he was still indeed the team's conditioning coach.
Even at ninety years of age.
While these four boxes were a ton of fun to peruse through and resulted in quite a few budding stacks of gems, this one has to take the cake.
As easily the oldest piece I found from my digs, this 1970 Topps "All-Star" Juan Marichal takes its place amongst the rest of my treasured vintage collection.
I've been fairly lucky with finding cards of the "Dominican Dandy" at recent card shows, but this one hadn't found its way into my grasp.
As I've said over and over again, you can literally find anything in seemingly random boxes like these.
I think Mr. Marichal is a good indicator of that.
So, again, a huge amount of gratitude goes out to reader Mark from Michigan who was nice enough to send these treasures my way.
"Fun" is not a big enough word to describe how I felt going through all those stacks of cardboard.
It's people like him that make this hobby so great.