Saturday, June 1, 2013

The good stuff

I like to think that I'm a veteran of the blogosphere at this point.

Of course, a lot of other blogs have been around much longer than mine. Over the year-and-a-half I've been a part of this community, however, I've learned many of the ins and outs of being a blogger.

On top of that, I've seen a lot of new, awesome blogs sprout up after my entry into the blogosphere. I've seen tons of blogs evolve and become some of my favorite sources of reading material over my 16-month career.

One of those blogs is run by T.J., otherwise known as "The Junior Junkie". In just six short months, his blog has established itself as one of my personal favorites around.

And, to add to his legend, he can put together quite the jaw-dropper when it comes to trade packages. He recently sent a small flat-rate box my way, the third I'd received in a two-week span at that point. (And not the first box I'd received from T.J., either.)

In it, I found four separately-wrapped bricks of legend...wait for it...DARY cardboard waiting to be sifted through. I quickly found that the "junkie" had once again hooked me up with quite a bit of the good stuff.

One of the initial cards that fell out of the box was this neat Panini Golden Age mini of the great Catfish Hunter, the very first mini I've acquired from the set.

I knew I was in for a treat after that.

I've barely touched anything from last year's Goodwin Champions release.

While logos were a no-go, the set did have at least one upside to it. Upper Deck included quite a few cards of pre-1900 ballplayers in the checklist, something for which I've long pleaded Topps to do one of these days.

As the back notes, former first baseman Joe Start's baseball career began before the Civil War. I sure can't say that about many of the players in my collection.

And, being a longtime buff on the "Black Sox" scandal, I can tell you in a heartbeat that Kid Gleason was the manager of that 1919 White Sox club.

Gleason's Goodwin Champions issue is only the second card of his in my collection at the moment.

T.J. was also nice enough to send along a few player collection hits in his brimming flat-rate box.

While I do enjoy snatching up Valenzuela's earlier Dodger issues here and there, I absolutely love finding cards from his later years. Because of his earth-shattering tenure in L.A., most of his later material can be placed under the "unfamiliar uniform" category.

After all, I doubt many people remember his eight-game tenure with the '94 Phillies these days.

T.J. recently penned a terrific trade post about a batch of cardboard I recently sent his way.

In it, he initially worried that all the stacks and stacks of cards I receive negates any hope I have of ever "collecting efficiently".

Believe me, that was a pressing concern when I first started this more dime box-centric style of collecting. In recent years, though, I've come to grips with a simple fact.

I don't want to collect efficiently.

I absolutely love knowing that there are thousands and thousands of neat cards out there that I haven't yet discovered. I can't say completion is that high on my priority list as a collector, which is probably why I've never seriously taken up the whole set building realm of the hobby.

In the end, though, T.J. knows that I absolutely love collecting the way I do, no matter how "inefficient" it may be. It's a big reason as to why I've come to develop so many mini-collections over the years.

And, with this package, T.J. certainly did a number on those. So, in case you missed my mega-post on the subject, let's run through a few of my mini-collections with some of the cards from this package.

I collect cards of guys signing autographs.

That shot of Mr. Cameron there is one of the better ones you'll find in that department.

I collect cards that feature "plays at the plate".

I collect "bat barrel" cards.

As I've found, 2009 OPC is a great reservoir for the latter.

I collect "interview" shots.

I collect cards that feature players "behind the camera".

And, as I've noted in the past, these aren't limited to photos on the fronts of cardboard. They also extend to shots on the backs.

Cards like the Galarraga are always welcome in my mini-collections.

I collect "pitchers at the plate".

And, in one of my new quests, I am now collecting cards that feature players "at the wall".

Binder inductee Craig Monroe's 2006 Fleer issue is a perfect specimen.

Although I probably have more than enough at the moment, I'm always on the hunt for new mini-collections to start.

Often times, trade packages serve as an inspiration.

While they can be a bit of a mess due to my position-based way of organizing, I figure I might as well make the best of cards like the Molitor. Perhaps an "out of position" themed collection is on the horizon. (Notice the first baseman's mitt on Molitor, who is listed as a DH.)

And while I'm not sure how many shots of the sort exist, perhaps a "rundown" mini-collection wouldn't be a bad idea sometime down the road.

A lot of the time, though, cards that could never possibly fit into a mini-collection strike my fancy.

Save for one I hope to acquire sometime soon, I think the Kelly is the first issue I've seen that features a shot of a photographer taking a shot of a ballplayer, if that makes any sense.

I don't know about you, but I can't think of another snow-themed card off the top of my head.

Travis Miller is certainly in select company there.

These might well take the cake as the coolest single cards T.J. sent my way.

I'd never even seen anything from the 1970 Topps Booklets set before this awesome flat-rate box arrived on my doorstep. Being the great person he is, though, T.J. had to know I'd get a kick out of these.

Which I most certainly did.

As you might guess, each contains a few comic-like pages of each respective player's big-league "story". They'll certainly make for neat, quirky additions to my binders.

And, to top it all off, the Harper is a treasured Seattle Pilot add.

That alone earns it about a billion points in my book.

These, however, helped me fulfill a lifelong dream.

Collector's Choice exited the hobby just before I started to get into the baseball card business. I've always maintained that it was one of the more underrated products in cardboard history.

All along, I couldn't help but think how much of a shame it was that I never got to bust any packs of the stuff.

Well, as luck would have it, T.J. quickly rectified that by including a few unopened Collector's Choice packs in his flat-rate box.

On the left, we have a 12-card pack of 1995 Collector's Choice Special Edition...

...which resulted in quite a few new gems for my binders.

I doubt many people knew who Garret Anderson was back in '95. He was just another rookie then. Now, of course, most fans know who he is, as he enjoyed a remarkably consistent 17-year big league career.

The early Delgado is a terrific new addition to my "autograph" mini-collection.

Note the rare "C-OF" designation near the top.

The pack on the right contained cards from Collector's Choice regular issue in 1995.

Like its Special Edition counterpart, this batch included quite a few new little treasures.

My favorite, however, was easily this silver signature "pitcher at the plate" shot of former Padre Andy Benes. (No relation to Elaine Benes.)

I miss the days where 99 cents could get you a pack of 10 "high-quality" cards.

I've been the beneficiary of a whole lot of amazing cardboard generosity over the past year-and-a-half. T.J.'s latest package continued the great trade package run I've been on lately.

So, am I a "vet" of the blogosphere?

Maybe. In the end, though, it doesn't make much of a difference either way.

All that really matters is the fact that I'm a part of this wonderful community.


Michael Chase said...

Wow, Holy nostalgia on the Collector's Choice packs!

You are definitely a vet Nick! I mean if we had all-star voting for bloggers you would already be a multiple time all-star.

And I am certain there is an MVP or five in your future too!

Keep up the great work..I have some catching up to do : )

Bo said...

Ricky Bottalico's UD rookie ('94?) is in the snow. And there is a card of Mike Mussina (94 Stadium Club?) sitting with a bunch of blocks of ice.

Ana Lu said...

I bought some 96 UD Collector's Choice and it was love at first pack. I already ordered more!

If I get something interesting for your collections we can manage a trade.

petethan said...

Two things.

1) Collector's Choice WAS awesome. 1994 CC is easily one of my all-time favorite non-Topps sets.

2) I can't believe you got a Joe Start card. I love Joe Start. Seriously. That's just sweet.

Oh, and one more thing, whether you're a veteran or not, you've got veteran game. No question.

The Junior Junkie said...

Glad you liked 'em. It was hard not to open those CC packs because of all the Griffey Gold Signatures that were most definitely inside them....