Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Reduce, reuse, recycle

Obviously, today's hobby isn't what it was thirty years ago.

Like nearly everything else in the world, collecting has been subject to a vast amount of changes over the past few decades.

Now, whether those changes have affected the hobby for better or worse is your own opinion. I'm probably not the best source for comparison, as I wasn't around in 1983.

Still, despite the understandable complaints I keep hearing about the "Topps monopoly", I've always found today's hobby to be an enjoyable one. There's still plenty for me to appreciate these days, no doubt about it.

That's not to say I don't have gripes with today's collecting universe. Because I do. Quite a few, actually.

For now, though, I'll focus on probably my most pressing concern these days, which is the watered-down excitement of past greats of the game.

It's what I like to call the "recycling phenomenon".

Of course, I probably don't have to tell you about that. You've probably noticed names like Mantle, Ruth, and Mays repeatedly popping up in today's checklists. Perhaps you're even downright sick of them by now.

Since I'm a Hall of Fame collector, I'm not sure if I could ever totally tire of seeing greats in current sets. But, I'll admit, there is a major problem on the horizon.

So, just how bad is it?

As of right now, companies seem to be running out of photos to use.

Now, whether that's due to a shortage or just plain laziness is something I'll try and answer in this post.

In the case of Bill Mazeroski, though, I'll give card companies a pass.

While I'm sure thousands of "Maz" photos were taken during his playing career, ones chronicling his famous game-winning homer in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series pop up on a substantial chunk of his cardboard.

True, Mazeroski was a perennial Gold Glove winner during his hallowed career. And, yes, he is enshrined in Cooperstown.

But, to most fans (including myself), he'll forever be known for that famous dinger.

For that reason, I don't have much of a problem with companies recycling these photos over and over again.

Besides, they make for some of the best celebration shots in existence, if you ask me.

While laziness probably does play into it, I generally give card companies a pass for repeatedly recycling the same Honus Wagner photos as well.

Then again, that pretty much goes for any stars of the dead-ball era.

Photography was still a fairly primitive form of media during the turn of the century. Compared to later greats, there simply aren't as many photos of guys like Wagner, Cobb, and "Wahoo" Sam Crawford around these days.

Although using the same photo for nine different cards is a bit extreme, I can't get too upset over this batch of Wagner cardboard.

Card companies don't really have much of a choice when it comes to the dead-ball era.

This, however, is just madness.

Although he's probably one of the lesser-known inductees, Enos "Country" Slaughter is indeed a Hall of Famer.

Unlike "The Flying Dutchman", photography was widely used during Slaughter's playing career. For many fans, it was the dominating aspect of the game.

And, although his "Mad Dash" in the 1946 World Series was his defining moment in the sun, he's known for a lot more than that single play.

Given all that, why do card companies continue to use this same shot of "Country" over and over again?

Beats me.

It's a neat photo, no doubt. But, to me, the fact that it pops up as often as it does is a sign of pure laziness.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

My main man Hoyt Wilhelm has fallen victim to "recycling" quite often in recent years.

Given that he played in the bigs from 1952 to '72, card companies have 21 years' worth of photos at their disposal.

Yet, over and over again, they keep going back to this rather unspectacular shot of the Hoyt-ster in Giants garb.

It's really a shame.

Perhaps the most cited subject of the "recycling phenomenon" is none other than Jackie Robinson.

He's in almost literally every single set released these days.

Believe me, Topps, I get that you want to honor the guy's legacy. I get it. A player as inspiring as him certainly deserves recognition in the hobby.

But, although it pains me to say it, I think it's time to cool it with the Jackie Robinson cards. At least for a little while.

Especially if you're just going to keep on recycling this photo. It looked absolutely perfect in its first appearance on Robinson's 1950 Bowman issue. (Featured on the reprint in the center.)

Now, though, such a previously awesome shot simply feels like old hat. It's gotten to the point where I'm not all that excited to pull a Robinson card anymore. 

IT SUCKS. It really does. I certainly don't want to feel that way. Jackie Robinson is easily one of my favorite figures from baseball history, without a doubt.

But all this "recycling" has really watered things down for me.

Still, I'm starting to see a faint glimmer of optimism.

For all the Gyspy Queen bashing I've done thus far, I was indeed excited upon my initial review of the brand's 2013 checklist.

I was happy to find names like Vida Blue, Bill Buckner, and Jim Abbott scattered amongst the base set. Guys like Buckner and Blue certainly deserve to be recognized in the hobby, but haven't due to that annoying "recycling" thing.

Maybe there really is a light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe "recycling" fad is actually coming to a close.

I certainly hope so.

Monday, April 29, 2013

The find of a lifetime

Initially, I was planning on revealing a new region from the "Gems of Junk Wax" tourney this evening.


The events of last afternoon got in the way of that. Don't worry, I should be posting about the tournament tomorrow. I assure you, though, this write-up will be worth the wait. I know it's a bit of a lengthy one, but it's more than appropriate for my find of a lifetime.

Yes, I did make another trek to the local flea market yesterday, and I did find a slew of new discount box gems for my binders, perhaps more than last weekend. You'll see them on the blog soon enough.

But that's not what we'll be talking about today.

After our latest flea market extravaganza, my mom and I made our way to a local garage sale yesterday afternoon.

First, though, let me tell you why we were there in the first place.

While I was out of the house on Saturday, my mom went to that very garage sale, as she does on many weekends. (I get my bargain hunting genes from both parents.)

When I came home that night, I surprisingly found six brand-new binders waiting for me in my room. My mom scored them for just a buck. And, no, not a buck each. A buck total. (Ironically, this came just a day after complaining that I didn't have any spare binders.)

It got even better. My mom said the guy who sold her the binders had a collection he was looking to unload. Apparently, he'd just had kids and moved into a new house, and his wife wanted to clear out some space, and...well, you probably already know how that one goes.

Because of that, my mom graciously offered to go back to the garage sale so I could take a look. Once we got there, the guy had a huge tub of cards in boxes, many of them containing complete sets from the overproduction era.

At first, I thought it was going to be the same tale I'd seen so many times before. Boxes and boxes of overproduced cardboard for sale at outrageous prices. All that hope wasted.

After rummaging through the bin a bit, American Pickers style, I found a few boxes to my liking. Four, to be exact, plus that card-filled binder you see lying atop of them. One of them, as you'll soon see, was really to my liking.

When I asked what he wanted for the lot, the guy had a firm $35 price tag in mind.

While I had to take out a bit of a loan from my mom to buy 'em, I gladly forked over the thirty-five bucks.

Remember that price as you read through this post.

Thirty-five dollars.

Now, I did select each of the four boxes and the binder for a reason. All had quite a few cards I needed for my collection. While I'll probably post about what the rest of my haul entailed in due time, I want you to focus on the one on the far left for tonight.

As you might be able to tell, it has the words "Important Cards/Papers" scribbled across the front of it. I didn't need the papers he had in the box, and the garage sale vendor took those out before I walked home with them.

Now, just what did that "important cards" label mean?

I'm glad you asked.

The title of this post isn't a hoax.

Those "important cards" were my find of a lifetime. Once I saw this well-loved piece inside that "important" box, I realized that this garage sale might not be a waste of time after all.

Back in the earlier stages of this blog, I dealt my '51 Bowman Charlie Keller to a fellow blogger. While I received a substantial haul in return, I've always wanted to own another '51 Bowman issue ever since then.

Now, thanks to this piece of one-time Pirates manager Billy Meyer, I feel like I've reclaimed a small part of my collection. 

Still, even a card from '51 Bowman felt like small potatoes in digging through the remains of this box.

I didn't even see this during my initial dig through the "important" box.

I found this "quasi-mini" lying at the bottom of the heap late last night. Apparently, some young collector really wanted a Roberto Clemente card.

So, not knowing what these things would be worth in forty years, he customized his '67 Topps Leaders card, isolating Mr. Clemente's portion in the process.

A small part of me couldn't help but laugh. Most collectors today wouldn't dream of doing something like this. Yet, back before the "money boom" of the hobby, it was a logical solution for a young Roberto Clemente fan.

Still, I couldn't help but wonder, "What if?"

What if this whole card was still intact?

I didn't own any "leader" cards of Clemente. One of those would certainly look nice in my collection.

What if?

Oh, well. It's probably not worth brooding over anyways.

Wait a minute...

...never mind.

Now I do have an actual "League Leader" card of Roberto Clemente!

Straight from a garage sale into my home!

Oh, and this just so happens to be card #1 from the '68 checklist, by the way.

And, as hard as it might be to believe, it wasn't even one of the three best cards I scored from this staggering box of cardboard.

I'm not kidding.

Yes, this jaw-dropping masterpiece was just my third-best find.

You'll see why in a minute.

That's not taking anything away form this amazing piece, though. This '63 Topps "Buc Blasters" issue pictures slugging Pirates Smoky Burgess, Dick Stuart, Bob Skinner, and, yes, Roberto Clemente.

This pre-dates the oldest solo Clemente card I have in my collection by a good six years.

Now, let me warn you.

What you're about to see may shock you. But I guarantee that these last two cards, with everything I've already shown in this post and all the other boxes (and binder) I featured at the top, only set me back thirty-five dollars.

I wouldn't lie to you.

Now, if you don't believe me, well...

I can't say I'd blame you.

I'm still having trouble coming to grips with my find of a lifetime. In fact, I'm still not convinced this isn't all just a dream.

I mean, how the heck can I explain the fact that I found a 1966 Topps Hank Aaron at some garage sale for such an unbelievable price?

Before last afternoon, the oldest "Hammerin' Hank" piece I owned was his '69 Topps issue. While I'd certainly been on the hunt for one of his mid '60s issues, I wasn't too hopeful.

I certainly didn't expect to ever land his '66 Topps card. At the "heroic" #500 in that year's checklist, the possibility of owning a high-number of arguably the greatest home run hitter ever didn't even cross my mind.

Aside from being off-center and having a couple tiny creases, it's in nearly flawless shape. Dinged corners are a bit of a theme with my vintage collection, but I can't see a single one on Mr. Aaron there.

There it is. My find of a lifetime.

Hold on.

Didn't I say there were two more cards to reveal in this post?

Why, yes, I did.

Honestly, I'm not sure that my excitement over this final piece can be put into fathomable words.

But I'll give it a shot.

While the Aaron was indeed one of the better additions of my collecting career, it was this final card that made this box my find of a lifetime.

Prepare yourself.




There he is.

The Mick.

In my collection.

Like I said, I'm still not convinced this isn't all a dream.

For as long as I've been collecting, I've wanted to add an authentic Mickey Mantle Topps piece to my collection. Given the outrageous prices his cards command, though, I'd pretty much given up all hope that it'd ever happen.

But, now, thanks to a tub of otherwise random cardboard that was gathering dust in some guy's basement, I can honestly say that I have one. One that, I may add, has absolutely no creases and minimal corner wear.

One that'd probably run me a couple hundred bucks otherwise.

So, yes, I am now actually the proud owner of a 1967 Topps Mickey Mantle.

You have absolutely no idea how much I've wanted to say that.

And, again, this entire haul cost just thirty-five dollars. I can't emphasize that enough.

Thirty-five bucks!

Also, if you're wondering, the guy did indeed know what he had. He flipped through the contents of his "important" box when I picked it out.

He saw the Mantle and the Aaron, along with all the other goodies he'd had. Apparently, he just wanted to unload as much of it as possible.

As they always say, one person's trash is another person's treasure. I've never believed that more until right now.

Card-related or not, I've heard quite a few stories of people discovering some "mega-finds" at garage sales over the years. All that time, I'd always wondered when my day would come.

Well, I can proudly say that moment has arrived.

Now I have one of those stories.

It was, and always will be, my find of a lifetime.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The "Holy %$^&!!" boxes, Pt. 1

No, your eyes aren't deceiving you.

Those are four glorious, card-filled boxes. And they all arrived on my doorstep thanks to one of the many generous souls we have here in the blogosphere.

A couple weekends ago, I went on one of my usual daily treks to our downstairs mailbox. I'd been expecting a few packages at the time, so I was already in a fairly eager mood.

My heart jumped a little when I saw those four boxes. At the same time, though, I remember thinking, "Nah. Those couldn't possibly be for me."

Yet, as I moved in closer, I saw something amazing. My address was indeed on each of those four boxes! Now, if you ask my friends, they'll tell you that I'm not a vulgar guy. Yet, under my breath, I couldn't help but say...

"Holy %^&&!! Those are for me!!"

Hence, the name of this little mini-series.

As it turns out, the boxes were from reader Mark from Michigan. He'd sent me an email saying he had some cards he wanted to send my way. But at no point did he hint that it'd be anything as monumental as this.

I spent most of my afternoon that day just sorting through all that cardboard. As I told Mark, there were certainly a tremendous amount of gems for me to discover, ones that, as you'll soon see, came from many facets of the hobby.

As a result, each of the boxes will get their own "episode" in this series, one that earns the distinction of being my first four-part trade post.

Commence part one.

Right off the bat, I knew I was in for a treat with these boxes.

One of the first cards I found was one that eliminated a longtime need of mine. Due to its relatively obscure status, I'd wanted this card of Dick Perez, the artist behind the "Diamond Kings" series, for a while.

After all, he was responsible for arguably the greatest subset of the '80s.

As you might already know, I'm a gigantic fan of neat photography on cardboard.

On the whole, Stadium Club might be as good as it gets in that department. Although they're not as commonly found as most early '90s sets (at least from my experience), they do still pop up here and there.

I uncovered a stack of about 20 cards from Stadium Club's 1992 release. While there were quite a few good ones, I'd have to rate this Kirk Gibson at the top of the list.

Topps seemed to fall in love with these neat batting cage shots in the early '90s.

I sure wish they'd bring 'em back.

To me, the home of the Milwaukee Brewers will always be Miller Park.

On the other hand, fans who have a few years on me probably picture County Stadium before all else. It's a "generation gap", of sorts.

While I don't have any vivid memories of the place, it sure looks like a nice setting for a ballgame.

Others might see creases, scuffs, and dinged corners.

All I see is one well-loved baseball card of Mr. Banks.

And a terrific add to my Cubs binder.

When digging through boxes like these, I'm always interested to see which cards received the "sleeve treatment".

Often times, it's the big stars or rookies. Yet, with others, the selection seems totally random.

The lone sleeved card I found in this box was the above '87 Topps Curt Young.

No offense, Mr. Young, but I have absolutely no idea who you are. Apparently, you enjoyed a fairly unspectacular 11-year big league career.

Still, you'll always be able to say you received the treasured "sleeve treatment" at one point.

In continuing with the '87 Topps theme, here's a couple favorites I found from the set.

Save for a brief one at-bat comeback with the Yankees in 1988, Chris Chambliss played in his final big-league games with the '86 Braves. His '87 Topps piece filled a gaping hole in my "sunset" collection.

Ron Cey, on the other hand, was a big-leaguer during the 1987 season. Under my rules, his blog-famous '87 Topps Traded A's card knocks that base '87 issue out of official "sunset" classification.

Nevertheless, that Cubs jersey still makes it one of my favorites from the wood-grain group.

Jeff Reardon does not approve of loud shirts.

While neither Horner nor Stieb are "binder guys" (yet), these will both earn places in my miscellaneous box of favorites.

After all, both chronicle a couple of historic moments from the game. That '91 Donruss piece actually features a great piece of photography for my "interview" collection.

Wait a minute.

Did I just put "1991 Donruss" and "great photography" in the same sentence?

I never thought I'd see the day.

To me, 1984 was far and away Fleer's peak year of production.

And I have far too few cards from the set for my liking. Surprisingly, they're fairly rare when it comes to dime boxes.

Thankfully, the first of Mark's four boxes contained a decent stack of '84 Fleer. As you might guess, my eyes absolutely lit up when I saw those.

Much like the '87 Topps Chambliss I featured earlier, Bucky Dent's 1984 Fleer card is a long-awaited add to my "sunset" collection.

All right!

Bring on the Bobby Grich!

That '85 Topps piece has to be one of my favorites from the set. A "peaceful" card if I've ever seen one.

Grich's 1984 Fleer card might well be the first "wardrobe malfunction" card in my collection. You can clearly see a good chunk of his...erm, thigh popping out from underneath his ripped Angels jersey.

I might have to make that the head of a new mini-collection in the future.

While it'd be hard to pick a single favorite piece from this initial box, there's a good chance that Mr. Hooton here would earn the honor.

This stakes its claim as one of the few O-Pee-Chee cards I own of the "sunset" variety. I'd plucked his base '86 Topps issue from a dime box long ago.

On top of that, it's one of the better "unfamiliar uniform" pieces out there. After successful stints with both the Cubs and Dodgers, Hooton closed out his career with a mediocre one-year stint with the Rangers in '85.

So, to recap, that's an O-Pee-Chee, "sunset", and "short term stop" card all rolled into one.

An instant classic, no doubt.

That wraps up the first of this four-part trade post. All that cardboard goodness came from just one of the four boxes Mark sent my way.

Stay tuned for the other three in the coming days.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again.

The amount of generosity I've seen in the blogosphere will never cease to amaze me.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Binder despair

I'm a binder guy.

Yes, I know I've uttered that exact phrase quite a few times prior on this blog, but I can't stress it enough. I am an absolute binder fanatic.

My very collecting roots lie with those trusty binders.

In the end, I guess that's why I've felt like such a cheater this week.

While I tried to fight it, a small part of me has been questioning my organizational system of choice lately. I didn't want to admit it, but it's true.

As I've mentioned in past posts, I am more backlogged now with sorting than I've probably ever been in the past. Trips to the card show and flea market will tend to do that. Not to mention the stacks of trade packages I've been getting lately.

Although the card show was more than a month ago, I'm only on the "P" section in my organization. I can see Willie Stargell's Diamond King face staring up at me right now from my unsorted stack of Pirates.

With finals week coming up fast, I'm questioning when I'll be able to get those cards put away.

As many of you probably know, finals don't leave a whole lot of time for hobbies.

Often times, binders and their components don't come cheap.

I've been in the market for a few new binders as of late. Overfilling is a huge no-no in my collecting universe, yet a few of my individual team collections are at risk of overstepping the line.

Whenever that happens, I usually split the team into two smaller halves, placing them into two different binders. The Rangers are probably the worst offender. I need to find a new binder for them, stat.

Trouble is, I don't have any spare ones at the moment.

Then, of course, we have those pesky pages.

I'm dipping into my "reserve" stash at the moment to keep up with my already-lagging sorting, something I don't often like to do.

As I've found, binders and pages often cost a pretty penny.

Which isn't ideal for a broke college student such as myself.

Of course, binders take up a great deal of real estate as well.

According to this afternoon's monthly check-up, I now have a grand total of 55 different binders in my room. Fifty-three of those are for individual teams, with some split into halves or even thirds.

One of the remaining two houses my Hoyt Wilhelm cards as well as my "keeper" game-used and autographs. The other contains my "old-school" defunct teams collection, comprising of my Browns, Colt .45s, Pilots, and Senators cards.

I showcased how I store these things in my very first post on this blog. I've added about a half-dozen new binders to my collection since then.

As you might guess, my binder-filled bookshelves are the single largest thing in my room at the moment.

With my ever-expanding collection, it's been getting harder and harder to store my cards in recent years.

So, yes, I'll admit it.

I've given a tiny bit of thought to simply chucking all my remaining, unsorted cards into one of those unsightly boxes as of late. Given that I still have ninety-six Phillies cards to put away, can you blame me?

On both a monetary and real estate level, it'd make sense.

Where am I going to find money for pages and binders?

How am I going to find room for all these cards in the future?

And, when the time comes to move into my own place, how much of a pain is it going to be to pack up all my binders?

They're certainly legitimate concerns.

I mean, I don't even...

Ah, who the heck am I kidding?

I love binders.

I absolutely adore them.

No matter how hectic things may get, I could never turn my back on them. No matter what.

I mean, just look at that display. Thurman Munson has rarely been shown in a greater light.

Sure, the slow sorting progression is a concern. But it's not like a race or anything. I'll put 'em away when I can. There's no rush.

True, binders and pages can cost a bit of money. Sometimes, though, I'll get lucky and find some on the cheap at a local flea market or garage sale. Plus, I already have a couple generous bloggers sending me their spare pages.

And, yes, binders do take up quite a bit of space. There's no denying that.

In the end, though, it's a small price to pay for what they bring to the table.

Without a doubt, binders are the greatest way to store a card collection.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Opening week at the flea market, Pt. 3: Smells like vintage

Let me take this opportunity to reveal one of my strangest secrets.

From time to time, when no one is watching, I get the urge to smell my baseball cards. I'm not sure how widespread this odd phenomenon is amongst collectors, but I'll admit that I'm one of the afflicted.

It doesn't happen all that often, but, yes...I do hold cards up to my nose on occasion.

For my money, nothing beats the sweet smell of vintage. The scent itself is hard to put into words, but I'm sure most collectors probably know it, whether they want to admit it or not.

Thankfully, I picked up a budding stack of vintage to smell...er, enjoy during last weekend's flea market extravaganza, all of which come courtesy of the vendor from my initial "return of the dime box" post.

In fact, a few of the older pieces I picked up came from that very dime box.

I ask you, does it get any better than dime box vintage?

The above '69 Topps Marty Pattin (a high-number, by the way) certainly caught me by surprise. Best I can remember, it's the first authentic Seattle Pilots card I've found from a dime box.

As I've mentioned in the past, one of my goals is to build the 1969 and 1970 Topps Pilots team sets. I've made decent progress thus far, although I'm not sure how many needs I have left.

I sure never thought I'd get any help from a dime box.

Take a gander at this pair of vintage dime box goodies.

That '70 Topps "Highlights" card is a great piece of history. The O's swept the Twins in three games during the '69 ALCS, catapulting them to the World Series. (Where they'd lose to the "Amazin' Mets".)

Even so, I can't stop staring at Andy Etchebarren's unibrow.

Very Bill Berry-like, if I do say so myself.

I'm with Mr. Owl on these.

Manager cards hit their peak in 1978. This one is especially neat for a couple reasons.

For one, it's Joe Torre's first-ever manager card. Given the long, illustrious career he'd enjoy after his playing days, I find it to be quite significant.

On top of that, Torre was both a player and a manager for the Mets in 1977, one of the last to ever wear the "player-manager" hat.

Would I like to see another player-manager in today's game?


Unfortunately, though, I don't think it'll ever happen.

While dime box vintage is always memorable, most of my "meatier" vintage finds were slightly pricier.

After I'd gotten my fill of dime, quarter, and fifty-cent cards, I moved onto the final bin this vendor had on display, one that featured rows and rows of individually-priced vintage.

Much like the rest of his inventory, this vendor's vintage carried extremely reasonable price tags.

At just a quarter, I didn't even have to think twice about snapping up this '74 Tony Perez.

A quarter was all it took to land each of these neat O's pieces as well.

Seeing as how it's his first solo Topps card, I'm certainly proud to own that Baylor.




And all just a quarter a piece!

As you might have noticed, I've been on a huge Hostess kick lately. I'm starting to think it's become a permanent obsession.

They are my absolute favorite oddballs, without a doubt. The Staub is especially oddball-ish. Although he'd been with the Mets since '72, the people at Hostess chose to airbrush an old Expos shot of "Rusty" for his 1975 issue.

As you can probably tell, they failed miserably. The Expos logo on Staub's jersey is still clearly visible. While it caused me a bit of anguish at first, I've decided that it'll go into the Mets binder after all, despite its Expo overtone.

And, while we're talking about my Mets binder...

Here are a couple new "Tom Terrific" pieces for my collection.

The '77 Topps issue only cost a mere quarter. It'll look great next to the "Cards Your Mom Threw Out" reprint I have of it in my binders.

I had the opportunity to purchase Seaver's '73 Topps issue from a dollar bin at last month's card show, but passed. The regret began to set in during the days following.

Luckily, those awesome cardboard gods once again smiled down on me. It turned up in this vendor's vintage bin with that very same dollar price tag.

This time, though, I pulled the trigger.

While Pilots and Seavers are terrific, I'd have to rate this as my best vintage score of the day.

At only a buck, I'll take absolutely any authentic Topps pieces of Mr. Bench here, the man at the center of the "Big Red Machine".

Plus, his '74 card has that weird tilted-photo thing going for it. For whatever reason, it was quite the fad during the 1970's.

All in all, it's a fantastic piece of the greatest catcher this game has ever seen.

And, let me tell you, it sure smells like vintage.

Now, if I start tasting my cards, then I probably have a serious problem. But smelling isn't so bad.

Is it?

But, yeah, each and every card I've featured in these past three posts came from just a single trip to my local flea market. And, for the past few years, this thing has run every week.

I'm not sure how I haven't gone broke yet.

Add it up

Reminder: "Gems of Junk Wax" tournament voting for this group of matchups ends at 11:59 PM tonight.

There are still several close races, so make your voice heard!

Back to the post.

Normally, I don't like to cram too many trades into a single post.

It has always been my firm belief that each and every trade deserves its fair share of recognition here in the blogosphere, no matter how big or small it may be.

In a way, all the trade posts I've written during my time around here are individual testimonials as to just how unbelievably awesome this place really is.

The trades you're about to see were all special in their own way. There's no doubt about that.

But, with finals and all that jazz inching up on me, I'm just not sure how much time I'll have for trade posts during these next couple weeks. 

So, in an attempt to catch up on my massively backlogged trading habits, I thought I'd do my best to unite all the smaller packages I've received lately into a "quick and easy" single post.

While perhaps not the biggest packages I've ever received, these smaller, bite-sized batches of cardboard really do add up after a while. (And, yes, the title of this post is a reference to one of the greatest Violent Femmes songs ever.)

To kick things off, we have a few cards from blog reader and fellow Cubs fan Jeff from Iowa.

We Cubs fans stick together around here.

Much like the last time we traded, he was nice enough to send me a few beautiful 2013 Topps parallels for my binders.

If I had to rank this year's emerald, blue, and red parallels, it'd probably look like this...

1) Wal-Mart Blue

2) Emerald

3) Target Red

I absolutely love this year's emerald and red parallels, but the blues are simply things of beauty. They kind of make me wish I lived near a Wal-Mart.

Boy, I never thought I'd say that in my lifetime.

Incidentally, this next group of cardboard also comes from a blogosphere reader/trader who goes by the name of Jeff.

This Jeff contacted me a couple weeks ago, gladly informing me that he had the last couple "Chasing the Dream" inserts I needed from this year's Flagship release.

Every time I graciously receive a Bryce Harper card from a fellow blogosphere member, I can't help but wonder what I would've had to give up for it if I were still on the forums.

Probably an arm and a leg.

As if knocking out a few insert needs wasn't enough, Jeff also squeezed a former "Dime Box Dozen" need into this little batch of cardboard.

Now, I can proudly say that I own both of the Topps pieces that picture Mr. Murcer as a Chicago Cub.

His '78 Topps card was getting a bit lonely in my binders.

Moving on, we have a few pieces I recently received from reader Paul.

Knowing that I have readers out there who haven't (yet) started a blog is awesome. It's great to know that we might have a few future bloggers on the horizon is certainly pleasing to think about.

In a way, that's what makes these reader-centric packages so neat.

While Paul was nice enough send a couple neat adds to my Vlad and Ichiro collections my way...

...the reason he contacted me in the first place was because of Marlon Byrd here.

Honestly, I thought his career was over after his 50-game suspension last year. But, as he always has, Mr. Byrd proved me wrong by latching on with the Mets out of spring training. He already has a walk-off hit to his credit in 2013.

I consider him, Casey Kotchman, and Hoyt Wilhelm as my "Original Three" player collections. They were the ones who first got me hooked on the thrill of collecting in that fashion.

From what Paul told me, he was once a Byrd collector himself. After picking out what I needed from his list, I asked Paul what he'd want in return. The email I received back certainly was special...

"You seem to really enjoy collecting. I appreciate that so I'll just give them to you."

Awesome. Simply awesome. It's great to know that my enthusiasm for this hobby has come across in my posts thus far.

I'll certainly enjoy these two for the remainder of my collecting life.

Next up, we have a familiar face from my blogger life.

The ever-generous William, author of the terrific blog "Foul Bunt", was nice enough to send yet another surprise package my way last week.

In many ways, William was the one who first opened my eyes to the awesome trading system we have in the blogosphere. Ever since then, I've left the whole "book value" thing in the dust and haven't looked back since.

His latest package to me contained quite an eclectic mix of cardboard, one that included everything from HOFer oddballs...

...to advertisement-tastic minor league issues...

...to mustachioed major leaguers.

While I haven't officially declared it as one of my mini-collections yet, William sent quite a few great facial hair pieces for my "cool" pile.

In actuality, though, this Hernandez was my favorite of the bunch because of the uniform he's sporting. His one-year "sunset" tenure with the 1990 Indians isn't all that well-remembered these days.

Still, cards of him in Cleveland garb will always be highly coveted pieces for my collection.

Also riding along on the surprise package bandwagon this week was Weston, author of the great blog "Fantastic Catch".

Weston is one of the few bloggers around who is actually younger than me. I feel a little older every time I read his blog.

His latest package to me made me realize just how many middle-of-the-pack sets were released during the mid-2000s.

Sets like Artifacts and Ovation aren't all that awful. Yet, at the same time, they're fairly forgettable these days.

Sometimes, it takes random trade packages like Weston's to remind myself that these sets even existed.


A new Ichiro card for my collection of his. I'm happy.

That's really all it takes for me to get excited over a trade package.

Call me crazy, but I actually volunteered to be placed on another blogger's PWE list.

This coming from someone who was recently raided with 35 envelopes over the span of a few days.

But, when Kevin of the awesome "Diamond King" blog offered up PWEs to any interested parties, I couldn't resist. I jumped at the chance.

Lo and behold, an innocent little envelope arrived on my doorstep just a couple weeks later. I cracked it open.

Out popped a nifty Graig Nettles "Senior League" issue.

Then came a couple HOF-themed cards from '71 Topps.

While I had both of these already, the Niekro was actually a much-needed upgrade over my copy, one that had forty-year-old tape lining the top of it.

And, no matter what, I'll never pass up a chance to show the '71 Ted Williams on this blog.

Finally, out fell the greatest of them all.

A vintage piece featuring arguably the two greatest hitters the game has ever seen. My dad remembers these old-time "record holders" cards well. 

As a result, I've picked up what I could from the subset over the years.

Finally, we have a few items from one of the newer members of the blogosphere, Bryan from the great blog "Golden Rainbow Cards".

He was nice enough to knock out a few of my 2013 needs.

From Heritage...

...to Opening Day...

...to Opening Day inserts, he certainly put a nice dent into my remaining wants.

I'll keep my obligatory "Superstar Celebrations" praise short.

They're awesome. They might be the best inserts in the hobby right now. And few collectors seem to care.


That wasn't so bad, was it?

Obviously, a huge amount of thanks goes out to each and every one of my fellow traders here. Smaller packages like these will always have a profound impact on my collection.

Day after day.