Saturday, June 29, 2013
Missing the days of 29-card packs
My dad has carried on a tradition throughout his lifetime.
Every year, he and a bunch of friends take a trip down to the glorious city of Memphis, Tennessee. Between Beale Street, Sun Studios, and the rather touristy Graceland, it's one of the better vacation spots around.
And, given how much of a music fan my dad is, I'm sure it's like a slice of paradise for him. (That's not even mentioning all the mouth-watering food they have down there.)
As it happens, Memphis is also home to a pretty awesome card shop, to boot. I vaguely remember going there when we took a family trip to Tennessee when I was younger. I do remember getting an absolute boatload of older wax packs at this particular shop, though.
Gratefully, my dad took a detour during his most trip to Memphis a few weeks back to stop at the little card store. He carefully picked out a few miscellaneous packs he thought I'd like.
One of his better finds was a 50-card repack that, due to its inclusion in a half-priced box, cost only fifty cents. (Marked down from its original $1 price tag.)
At such a modest price, I wasn't expecting to find much. Surprisingly, though, a good chunk of it was composed of pre-'81 cardboard.
The above piece for my Amos Otis player collection might've been my best pull of all.
Not to be outdone, this particular repack provided some key additions to a couple of my mini-coillections.
The Reynolds, of course, is a coveted "bat barrel" piece. And the Foli is one of the better "double dip" cards I own. And, ironically, both hail from a set that I'd never much cared for prior to this break.
Perhaps I should start giving 1980 Topps a little more credit.
However, the real treasures from my dad's finds came in the form of bulging overproduction era packs.
Some collectors might scoff at the idea of voluntarily busting assortments of so-called "junk wax".
Not me, though. I absolutely love it. Since I wasn't even born during most of the overproduction era's offerings, I can't say I've had the pleasure of opening many packs from the time period.
That's why these are such an awesome "blast from the past" for me.
I even scanned the wrappers for the purposes of this post. I thought a few of my readers might enjoy the nostalgia they offer.
Up first was a four-pack assortment of 1991 Conlon Collection.
Although I'd already had most of the set, Conlon's inaugural release in '91 is always good for a trip through baseball history.
After all, how often do you see guys named Muddy Ruel these days? Or shots of Hall of Fame second baseman Tony Lazzeri in catcher's gear?
Cards like these are perfect examples of why I will forever be a Conlon Collection fanboy.
As you can probably tell, I was a bit enthusiastic in opening this pack of '94 Score.
One of the things that first caught my attention was just how much cardboard you got for your buck back in the day. As the price tag says, my dad picked this one up for just 59 cents.
However, in the top-right, you can see the original retail price for these 29-card packs. A mere $1.99.
Oh, how I wish we could go back to those days.
Aside from Pinnacle, Score is the one brand that never received their fair share of recognition in this hobby.
They always seemed to produce a perfectly acceptable batch of cardboard, year in and year out. As far as I'm concerned, Score was one of the more consistent brands around at the time.
Their '94 release has long been one of my favorites. Although I pulled quite a few neat cards, the ones you see above were probably the two best.
Thanks to the help of many fellow bloggers, my Darryl Kile collection has nearly doubled within the past few months. Nevertheless, this pack gave me a terrific new piece of the late hero, one that commemorates his September 8, 1993, no-hitter against the Mets.
While it's not the first card I own that features a foul line-leaping Turk Wendell, that particular piece is still makes for a tremendous "frankenset" addition.
As I've found, one cannot have too many Turk Wendell cards.
Next up was a budding 23-card offering of 1993 Donruss.
At just 95 cents, that's one heck of a steal.
While the design isn't all that exciting, I'm still a fan of this set.
After all is said and done, the focus for Donruss in '93 was all about the photography. That's the way it should be.
And, as was the trend at the time, Donruss even gave us a bonus shot on the back as well.
It's amazing that such a fantastic photo of Denny Neagle was warranted to the "flip side" of his '93 Donruss issue.
With a nifty Pirates throwback and an autograph shot, it's an ever-rare "combo" mini-collection need.
This was somewhat like the "holy grail" for my low-end collecting mentality.
Here, we have a 27-card "holographically enhanced" pack of 1993 Upper Deck.
Also known as one of the greatest sets ever made!
As collectors, we tend to disagree on many different aspects of this hobby.
But, at least from my experience, I've found '93 UD to be one of the few near-universal truths of cardboard around.
You'd be hard-pressed to find a collector who doesn't cherish this set. (I'm still waiting for someone to start a 1993 UD set blog, by the way.)
I mean, what's not to like?
I probably could've done a single post each of the 27 cards this pack had to offer. For the sake of brevity, though, let's just focus on the two you see above.
The Jacoby is yet another awesome "flip side" mini-collection need. It's one of the extreme few "argument" cards I've seen in the world of cardboard. Mr. Jacoby doesn't look too pleased with the ump's emphatic "out" call.
Denny Neagle once again makes an appearance in this post. This time, it looks as though he's in the process of emerging from the Wrigley Field ivy.
Shades of Andre Dawson.
As great as a '93 UD break was, though, I think this was the one true gem from my dad's purchase.
For whatever reason, anything Stadium Club-related seems to be a tough find around here. Singles don't seem to pop up all that often, and I don't think I'd ever busted a pack of the stuff before this.
No matter what it contained, I was sure this 14-card "super premium" pack of 1993 Stadium Club was sure to be a blast.
It didn't disappoint.
I can't say I'd ever heard of John Marzano before.
Still, that's one awesome shot right there. That's part of the beauty of Stadium Club, though. It didn't matter how famous anyone was.
With such great photography on Topps' part, you still had the opportunity to become a cardboard legend.
That's not to say that Stadium Club didn't have its occasional slip-up, though.
I very nearly tossed aside that "Members Only" Juan Gonzalez parallel without a second thought. After a few seconds, though, I noticed something interesting.
Topps misspelled his last name. It's incorrectly labeled as "Gonzales" on the front. (Strangely enough, it's spelled correctly on the back.)
An error card!
I know I've been using the word "awesome" quite a bit in this post, but I have to ask.
How awesome is that?
To close things out, I'll leave you with this epic "play at the plate" shot of Mr. Joe Oliver.
Such legendary photography is why I've become such a Stadium Club devotee over the years.
I'm already planning to go with my dad to Memphis next year. It's been way too long since my last visit to such a wonderful town.
And, yes, I'm most definitely planning to hit this very card shop if that comes to fruition.
Until then, though, I'll be basking in the glory of my dad's latest awesome finds for my collection.
Despite what others might have you believe, the overproduction era gave this hobby quite a bit of great cardboard. I hope I've made that point clear in my writings thus far.
If you ask me, it's an era that should be celebrated around collecting circles.