I'm at a point now where blogging is pretty much an ingrained part of my life.
When I first started this little blog, it was new. Exotic. I came from a long line of boring trading forums before I discovered this place. Forums where little discussion of the hobby actually takes place.
Discovering the blogosphere changed me. I think that pent-up enthusiasm comes up in a lot of my earlier posts.
You mean I can do more than just trade baseball cards? I can actually scan them? And TALK ABOUT THEM? COOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Now, blogging is a part of me. I'm a little more sporadic with my posting these days, but not a day goes by where I don't at least look at or think about this blog. A possible post idea here. A new mini-collection there.
Still, one thing I'll never, ever take for granted are the dozens and dozens of wonderful readers and bloggers we have around the blogosphere family. I'm reminded of that every time I read a great new post or hear about someone else's amazing generosity. And that happens a lot.
A lot of the time, I'm reminded of that when a new batch of cards winds up on my doorstep. Or, if I'm lucky, a big, bulging flat-rate box chock full of cardboard.
The latter happened a few weeks ago, courtesy of my good buddy Wes, a reader and Yankee collector. (Not the Jaybarkerfan Wes who appears to be back to his crazy ways. Yes, this is a different Wes that floods people with cardboard.)
I knew I was in for a long, glorious day of sorting after cracking open his latest assortment.
Players I Collect (Parts 1 and 2)
As you may remember, Wes organizes his packages better than anyone I've ever seen.
Like the many past boxes he's sent me, he themed each individual portion of this mega-box. Not only is the guy generous enough to carefully select cards he thinks I might enjoy, but he compartmentalizes them as well. (If nothing else, these posts probably have the biggest single-word title in blogging history.)
What more could I ask for?
Similar to the posts I'll be writing about this magnificent array of cardboard, the player collection hits Wes included in this latest batch had to be split into two parts.
It started with Pat Neshek, the man behind perhaps the most feel-good story of the 2014 season and the face of one of my newest collections.
Things quickly spread to some of the more tenured members of my binders.
Wes is basically the inspiration behind the elevation of Mitch Williams to my upper tier of player collections. The last box he sent included an entire section devoted entirely to the "Wild Thing".
Now he's another one of the boys.
Wes also managed to find a new hit to my Marlon Byrd collection, something that has become a fairly rare occurrence.
Considering he's been in the league for a good 13 years, Byrd doesn't have a whole lot of cards out there. He's had exactly four produced in the last two years, odd for a guy that quietly posted a 25-homer season here in 2014.
Aside from super-rare numbered issues or short-prints, I've somehow managed to build a fairly complete collection of his over the years.
Wes filled in one of the cracks with this "Impressions" parallel of the Byrd-man himself.
I'm probably one of the few collectors with a interest in non-sports cardboard.
Presidents are especially welcome. As far as Commanders in Chief go, Andrew Jackson is right up there among the biggies.
If I learned anything in my AP US History class, it's that "Old Hickory" was definitely one of the most revolutionary figures in American history.
I used to pick and choose which oddballs to add to my collection.
If they didn't fit into any of my many player collections, then I wouldn't pull the trigger. Things were a lot more selective then.
It's gotten to the point now where I'll take pretty much any oddball ever made.
Wes is an absolute machine when it comes to pumping out mini-collection hits.
I don't know how or where he happens to find so many new ones, but I'd never seen the vast majority of the awesome themed cards he included in this box.
This sweet "interview" shot of Damian Jackson was the tip of the iceberg.
While both of these are indeed fine mini-collection hits, each resonated with me on a much higher level.
Aside from being a great new "anthemic" shot, the Durham is one of the few cards that commemorates his short stint with the 2002 A's.
The other is special because, I mean...it's a guy named Pork Chop Pough.
One wonders how he earned such a nickname.
Autographs/At the Wall
Early-to-mid 2000's Upper Deck sets are a goldmine for my mini-collections.
I'm a little ashamed at the fact that I can recognize an ad for Bud Light on that Floyd from a tiny portion of the B.
I guess that's what today's world of advertising does to you.
Wes made sure to include two copies of this one.
It's the only card I've ever seen that features a mound conference on both the front and back. And the same conference, at that.
Laziness or genius?
Here's a pair of oddities from the world of hitting pitchers.
Given that Dennis Martinez played for the Orioles in the post-DH/pre-interleague era, it's not surprising that he never took a single at-bat during his ten-plus years with Baltimore. That sure didn't stop Fleer from producing a card of "El Presidente" with a bat in 1982.
The late Rod Beck was a career relief pitcher, which, of course, means that he didn't get many chances to hit during his 13 seasons in the bigs. He did, however, rap out four hits in 19 career at-bats, good for a .211 career average.
Not bad, Mr. Beck.
Not bad at all.
Pitchers on the Basepaths
I like that Wes separated the hitting pitchers from the running pitchers.
They are, after all, two entirely different animals. Anyone can pick up a bat and look semi-menacing at the plate. Actually getting on base is a whole different story.
Zane Smith and Steve Trachsel are part of a select class.
In terms of sheer quantity, double dips ran away from the pack in this package.
I had a huge stack of them sitting on my living room table after all was said and done, and I ended up needing a good 80 percent of the ones Wes included.
It's times like these where I realize that I haven't even scratched the surface when it comes to the amount of cards I have in my mini-collections.
Especially double dips.
This page alone features the staggering amount of diversity you can find in the world of throwbacks.
Teams with loud throwbacks (Pirates, Padres, A's), presently awful teams that probably wish they could flashback to the days of said throwbacks (Twins, Phillies), and even some teams that no longer exist (Senators, Browns, San Francisco Seals).
Ah, sweet throwbacks.
I never tire of you.
Plays at the Plate
Wes actually included a great array of plays at the plate in his mega-box, but this one fascinated me the most.
We've all seen it before. Game 7 of the 1992 NLCS. Sid Bream hobbling home with every fiber of his body. Andy Van Slyke unleashing a laser to the plate. Catcher Mike LaValliere lunging desperately to apply the tag. Bream beating the throw by an eyelash. Braves win! Braves win!
It's arguably the most famous play at the plate in baseball history.
And yet this is the first card I own that features it. The only one I've ever seen. I don't think any others exist.
That seems criminal for such an important and iconic moment. If nothing else, it looks absolutely fantastic on a baseball card.
Mini-collections were made for shots like this one.
This staggering mega-box was the gift that kept on giving. And, I'll tell you right now, it went way beyond the world of simple mini-collections. Plus, this box had a bit of weight to it, more so than anything Wes had sent me in the past. But more on that later.
For now, let's all stand up and give the great Wes a rousing round of applause.