Recent events have me wondering if we may have a deranged pack searcher on the loose here in the 'burbs.
Only later did I realize that the contents of a warped Series 2 rack pack I bought from my local Target could well have been the result of searching. The same may be true of a few other damaged rack packs I've bought over the last year or so. The events of last weekend further aroused my suspicions.
My dad and I took a little stroll through the Target card aisle on Friday. I wasn't looking for anything in particular. Maybe a hanger of A&G, if they had one. A quick search through the shelves came up empty. Or so it seemed.
Right as I was about to walk away, my trained dime box eagle eyes noticed an A&G hanger suspiciously tucked behind another box on display, further buried by a few random loose packs on top of it.
I'm just theorizing here, but I think someone may have wanted to hide that thing away for themselves. Quite possibly because they searched through it beforehand. It looked way too structured to be accidental.
I saw an opportunity and took it. I snatched the hanger from beneath the rubble, and my dad was nice enough to get it for me as a little celebratory back-to-school gift.
About fifteen minutes later, I saw why Mr. Pack Searcher wanted it all to himself.
Bonus Mini Pack:
#26 Fergie Jenkins, Mini Gold Border
#257 Adrian Beltre, Mini Gold Border
#255 Andre Rienzo, Mini Gold Border
If I didn't have bad luck with these types of retail-exclusive parallels, I'd have no luck at all.
That is, until Friday. In a shocking revelation, I pulled a few exclusives of guys I actually collect. I'm usually stuck with middling Rays or Twins players that sit in my trade stack for years on end.
Not this time. I needed the Beltre, really needed the Fergie (enough to let out an audible WOW after pulling it), and I already have a good home in mind for the Rienzo.
I could tell things were looking up from the start.
#245 Matt Harvey
I needed the first card in the first pack, which is also a grand departure from what usually happens with most of my retail breaks.
I'm going to be honest here.
This card scared the ever-loving bejesus out of me.
Once I was able to calm down a bit (after a good ten minutes or so), I had to come to grips with the fact that a major figure from my youth is now being included in A&G as a premier "retired" player.
I'm starting to feel old at 22.
#315 Brandon Phillips SP
The second WOW card of the hanger, after the Fergie mini.
I'd seem glimpses of this year's "Fields of Yore" inserts on other blogs, but this was my first time seeing one in-person. As great as the blogs are, the feeling of holding a card in my hand cannot be matched by anything on the internet.
Aside from maybe the Wrigley Field one, the Astrodome would probably be the insert I'd most want to pull from this series.
One of my favorite baseball quotes is Dick Allen's famous "If a horse won't eat it, I don't want to play on it" quip. He was, of course, talking about the Astrodome and its artificial turf. Part of me wishes the Astros still played there today.
Either way, I'm making it an unofficial goal of mine to have this insert set completed by the end of the year.
I've never been much for visual art, but this was a refreshing pull because of my general love for history.
A general love for minis also helped.
#214 Carli Lloyd
#220 Josh Hamilton
Needed the first card of the second pack.
WOW card #3.
Though "Teddy Ballgame" has a slight ding in the bottom-right corner (perhaps another piece of pack searching evidence), this is a genuine masterpiece on the part of Topps.
I know I've seen this image on a few other cards, but something about it seems to work perfectly with A&G.
Also, as a bit of a sidebar, I highly recommend reading John Updike's short story "Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu" on Williams' last game at Fenway.
Maybe I'm biased because I'm a huge Updike fan, but you'll have a tough time finding a better piece of baseball literature.
#346 Ivan Nova SP
I don't have any plans to chase this series, but I thought this was worth a scan nonetheless.
#110 Jeremy Hellickson, Mini
No beard, Topps?
#56 Jason Heyward
There it is.
I can't remember ever having such good luck with first cards in packs.
Another awesome insert need.
Mr. Ryan also has a ding in the top-left corner, but that's because I dropped him on the kitchen floor when I got home on Friday afternoon. Clumsiness and baseball cards don't mix, kids.
Topps, by the way, lists Ryan's pastime as "Team Executive". Because I guess that's a hobby now.
Some people golf for fun.
Some are MLB executives in their spare time.
By now, this rack pack had already cemented itself as one of the better breaks in recent memory.
That was before this Jackie Robinson mini fell out about halfway through the final pack. Another WOW card, for sure.
I know I might get mad at Topps for including the same handful of retired players in every set, but I long ago accepted the fact that I don't have a limit when it comes to Jackie Robinson. I'm happy for anything and everything I can get.
Keep churning them out, Topps.
I'll keep buying 'em.
Last, but certainly not least, WOW card #5.
I have pulled exactly one other autograph or relic in almost a decade of buying A&G retail. And that was a Brent Morel autograph back in 2011.
This isn't your run-of-the-mill Brent Morel. This is Jordan Oliver, a college wrestler who is one of a few non-baseball subjects in this year's A&G autograph checklist.
Though it was definitely an exciting pull, I'll probably end up selling it. I'm sure it'll recoup the cost of these packs, and then some.
Maybe I'll treat my dad to an album or two with the money, considering he's the one who bought me this gem of a hanger in the first place.
#211 Mark Roth
I'm not sure hangers get any better than that one.
The vast majority of my pulls were needs, and I even scored a card that might net me a few extra bucks in the process. What more could I ask for?
If any pack searchers are reading this, please feel free to keep putting these big time hangers aside.
I'll be sure to keep showing you what you missed.