Sunday, January 5, 2014

Repack 101

Tomorrow was supposed to be my first day of school for the semester.

Expected wind chills of about -50 degrees put an end to that, however. Thankfully, my school chose to shut down for the inclement weather. Riding public transportation in cold like that wouldn't have been much fun, I'm sure.

While I'm all bundled up inside for now, I thought I'd recap the contents of a repack I bought a little before the holidays. I deemed it my Christmas gift to myself.

And, since I'm starting to get into school mode now, I thought I'd give a little lecture to the people who aren't all that familiar with repacks. I don't know if I'm a repack vet by now, but I have picked up a few lessons along the way.

Today's lecture is what I like to call Repack 101.

Lesson #1 -- Let the visible cards guide your repack purchase.

There's no way of knowing what'll be in the repack you choose to buy. That's the fun of them, after all.

However, you can skew the odds a bit in terms of getting a card (or cards) you need for your collection.

If the repacks at your local big box store are anything like the ones my Target has, there are usually a few cards visible through little windows of the impossible-to-open plastic container. If you see something nice in one of them, that's probably a good start.

I'm not a Chipper Jones collector, but I thought this particular piece looked nice. Certainly among the higher-end of the spectrum as far as these things go.

Chipper convinced me that this was the repack for me.

Lesson #2 -- Don't completely ignore the so-called "junk wax".

Yes, a good portion of most repacks consist of cards from the overproduction era.

I think that's part of what makes some people shy away from them. After all, does anyone really need more 1988 Donruss?

But, if one of the still-running themes on this blog is any indication, there can be quite a few diamonds in the rough when it comes to late '80s and early '90s cardboard.

I found a whole stack of these neat '87 Topps Glossy All-Stars in my repack, one that included guys like Gary Carter and Dwight Gooden.

Plus, judging from that shot, I'm guessing Whitey Herzog doesn't like having his picture taken.

Lesson #3 -- Be on the lookout for oddballs!

Most repacks I've purchased have contained at least a couple oddballs.

This particular one featured a few of these terrific 1991 Brewers Police singles. I'd never seen any of these things before.

Oddballs can be some of the most entertaining features of repacks.

I think that was certainly true with this one.

Lesson #4 -- There's always something for the more present-minded collector.

I enjoy '80s and '90s cardboard as much as most collectors, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't like finding a few more recent singles in repacks every now and then.

A decent-sized stack of 2010 Topps fell out of this one. And, since I wasn't building mini-collections at the time these came out (not consciously, anyways), I missed out on a ton of terrific cards that featured non-binder guys.

This spectacular "double dip" shot of Alcides Escobar was among the highlights of this repack for me.

Lesson #5 -- Take in the photography.

Great photography is the main reason I keep gravitating towards repacks.

In terms of value, a single with a great photo isn't going to command more money than your standard base card. That's why shots like these continue to wind up in repacks like these so often.

I doubt many cards feature baserunners sliding in between the legs of an opposing infielder. The same goes for big power hitters urging their teammates to take the extra base on a wild pitch.

Repacks really can offer a lot to the collector in search of great photography.

You just have to find it.

Lesson #6 -- Always, always check the backs.

To some, the backs of cards are almost like an afterthought.

Sometimes, though, they can feature something as good or perhaps even better than the fronts. I've found quite a few mini-collection shots lurking on the backs of otherwise mundane cardboard.

The front of Mike Pagliarulo's 1991 Upper Deck issue isn't much of an eye-popper. The back sure is, though.

In yet another example of Cubs ineptitude, the former Padre is shown attempting to tag out one Cubbie baserunner just as another comes sliding into third. It almost looks like an old Three Stooges routine.

I don't know about you, but I've never seen another card quite like it.

Had I not checked the back, I probably would've just thrown it in with all my other extras.

Lesson #6 -- Expect the unexpected.

The repack I purchased promised five rookie cards within its reaches.

That's not why I bought it, but I figured the added rookie spice would make for a nice bonus. Honestly, I thought it'd be a few unspectacular overproduction-era first-years. Or maybe a few recent Bowman no-namers.

You can imagine my surprise, then, when rookies of Andre Ethier and Daisuke Matsuzaka fell out of this repack. Granted, I already have both of these in my collection, but they were still quite a shock.

Ethier is still a fairly big name in today's game. He never played a single game with the A's, which means that's a coveted "zero-year" card. Oh, and that's a mean "bat barrel" shot there. All that makes it one of the better rookies in recent memory.

I don't think it's a good sign that we're starting to find Dice-K rookies in repacks now. He's quickly become one of the biggest busts in recent memory.

Six or seven years ago, a card like that would've been pure gold.

Lesson #7 -- You just never know.

This is the repack motto.

You just never know.

You can't possibly know what you'll find in a repack until you buy one for yourself. The ones I get are only four bucks a piece, so they don't break the bank. For 100 cards, that's one heck of a deal.

Luckily for me, one of those 100 singles in this particular repack was a Mike Fontenot card.

Not only that, but a Mike Fontenot card that I didn't already have.

I've searched long and wide for new pieces to my collection of his. I quickly became a Fontenot fan during his fairly short-lived tenure here in Chicago. I'm probably the last Cubs fan that owns an authentic Mike Fontenot jersey here in 2014. (The one I have is shown on this card.)

I'm not sure how this 2007 Fleer single managed to elude me for so long. Thankfully, the repack gods managed to save the day.

It's the 27th Mike Fontenot card I own. And counting.

That's all I have for this Repack 101 lecture. No, there won't be test later.

I do hope that some of you write papers on your repack experiences in the future, though.


buckstorecards said...

If you can't enjoy the cards in a repack, you aren't trying. I didn't have a single one of those all-star glossies until Target opened up in this area, and they had repacks.

Although I find myself gravitating more towards stuff I didn't collect back in the day, football and basketball, other sports are still pleasant purchases.

Hackenbush said...

I agree. Repacks force you to look closer at cards and appreciate them for what they do have to offer rather than what they don't. In fact that's what I love about the card blogging community in general. It has opened my eyes to different ways of looking at cards. And that only adds to the enjoyment of collecting.

Laurens said...

I've always thought the base runner being chased down on the Mike Pagliarulo card is a one-time pitcher for the Cubs named Greg Maddux.

Swing And A Pop-up said...

Very cool post. I buy the repacks with the hopes of getting some oddball cards. They are usually good for a Captain Crunch card or something like that.
Plus I do look at the photos, read the backs, etc. It's a lot of cheap fun for me.

Ana Lu said...

Mike Pagliarulo's 1991 Upper Deck back photo is one of the examples that UD used to keep the best not to last but to the back of the cards ;)

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DaddyMike said...

That is Maddux on the back of the Pagliarulo card. Play by play @ baseball reference .com