In case you missed Part 1 of this mini-series, an ever-generous buddy of mine named Wes recently dropped yet another big ol' box of cards on me.
The fact that he compartmentalized all of the cardboard he sent into little individual themes made an already legendary behemoth even more fun to open.
Yesterday's post mostly featured some of my more well-defined quests. Player collections, mini-collections, and so on.
The fun really began to kick in when I started to dig through all the more random, open-ended themes Wes created. If I were to come across a team bag labeled "Plays at the Plate", I'd have a pretty good idea of what would be inside.
Then again, if I were to find one marked, say...
...the possibilities would be endless.
I personally define vintage as anything pre-1981, but who cares what I think? I was born in 1992, so I'm probably not the best one to speak on such a matter.
From the looks of it, Wes pushes the vintage line a couple years ahead, as this team bag included a variety of cardboard from the mid '80s. Included in the bunch was this fun "Super Veteran" Sparky Lyle, one of the extreme few cards you'll ever see that features him with the White Sox.
Sparky looks much more fitting with a mustache, if you ask me.
Okay, so maybe "minor league" is more concise than "vintage".
But Wes managed to pack an astounding amount of variety in what seemed like an innocent little theme.
That's current hard-nosed Cardinals manager Mike Matheny in what looks like a Little League tee-ball uniform. Next to him is Monty Stratton, a man who pitched in the minors for five years after having his right leg amputated.
These ballplayers today and their strained obliques.
Because every package needs a little star power, right?
I got a little scared when I saw this team bag fall out of the box.
Everything else? I thought a severed head might pop out at me. Nah. Nothing like that. Just cards, thankfully.
Bip, Fernando Tatis and his two grand slams, Mr. Met, a Sox/Cubs checklist...the list kept on going.
Everything else, to say the least.
Here's where I started to get really excited.
Having been lucky enough to receive a couple other boxes from Wes in the past, I knew he had an outstanding eye for awesome photography.
In fact, he sent over the F/X version of a card I've actually wanted for a long time now. The standard UD base issue of this one does a better job of featuring the bird's eye tatooine shot, but I've always liked the feel of these Special F/X curiosities.
I guess it's no surprise that Upper Deck would be included under the "great photography" heading.
The presence of Bowman, however, caught me way off-guard.
To me, Bowman is known for two things. Rookies and boredom. And I don't care much about the rookies these days.
Imagine my surprise, then, when I saw that Kevin Appier masterpiece. I had to rub my eyes a few times to make sure I had the right set. Bowman?!
Okay, terrific "broken bat" cards like that Alou are fairly par for the course for UD.
For a moment, I wondered why Wes put that seemingly ordinary Dickie Thon in with the cool crowd.
That is, until I remembered that a handful of cards from Fleer's "Superstar Special" series are actually two-parters. And I just so happened to have the other piece sitting in my collection with Mr. Sax.
The duo is complete!
These are the kind of cards that make me proud to collect the way I do.
Here's what I learned from this quirky quartet of cardboard.
1) Donruss granted Scott Bradley the rare C/3B/OF designation, and he has the gloves to prove it.
2) Raul Mondesi's glove apparently fields better than he does.
3) Bobby Jenks works for Rosetta Stone in his spare time.
4) Jeff Cirillo likes a light cup of tea in the morning. Or maybe coffee. Or, judging from the glove on his head, perhaps a splash of whiskey.
Baseball cards can teach you some valuable lessons, kids.
Wes managed to sum up the crux of my collection with this section.
When you boil it all down, I guess you could say that, yes, I pretty much look for anything out of the ordinary on cardboard.
Things like guys with a team name stitched across their back. Or exploding rosin bags. Or doctored baseball allegations. Or pitchers striking a catching pose.
If it's fishy, I want it.
At first glance, this appears to be as normal as a baseball card can get.
Just your ordinary retro-themed, one-time prospect who never panned out in the bigs.
Or is it?
Only on the second glance did I notice anything fishy about this card, which speaks to Wes's eagle eye. Take a look at the transaction noted on top of Alex Cabrera's nameplate.
Sold to Seibu Lions, 12-7-00.
That's the first time I've ever seen a card company note any sort of deal regarding a Japanese baseball team. And, as if that wasn't intriguing enough, Cabrera would go on to belt a whopping 357 homers in just 12 seasons in Japan. He was playing there as recently as 2012.
Fishy and fascinating, all in one.
Not Something You See Everyday
We've come to the final section of what will go down as one of the best trade packages in the history of Dime Boxedonia.
Wes did an superb job of capturing intriguing and generally strange goings-on in the world of baseball. It all began with this heartwarming "cards with kids" shot of Jay Bell from '95 Score, perhaps the most underrated set in history.
If this card doesn't make you smile, then you might want to see someone about that.
This section certainly lived up to its billing.
Palm trees, eye black, knee braces, guys awkwardly leaning back in chairs. Not exactly what you'd call normal in the world of baseball cards.
The Worrell was a nice addition, especially considering Wes sent me a jumbo-sized version of that beauty in his last box.
Still, in terms of sheer oddity...
...I think this one has to take the cake.
Eric Christopherson never made it to the major leagues, but he can always claim to have this gem of a baseball card under his belt.
For whatever reason, Christopherson and a few of his fellow Shreveport Captains teammates found themselves in a recording studio in 1992. In full baseball gear, mind you. I tried to find the backstory, but I fear it's been lost to history.
Nevertheless, I'd like to personally thank Upper Deck for using such an unconventional photo on a baseball card.
Now our group of Cardboard Rockers finally have an engineer.
Wes could've easily stopped there. By now, he'd already added a few massive stacks of outstanding cards to my collection.
But he had one last surprise in store. One huge surprise. As I briefly mentioned yesterday, this box was quite a bit heavier than the others Wes had sent in the past. It was a struggle to get it up the stairs.
I racked my brain to try and see if I could figure out what the heck all the extra weight was. I couldn't come up with much.
Only one way to find out, right?
That, my friends, is an entire binder of 1984 Fleer.
Wes stuffed the entire thing, pages and all, into this already gigantic trade package. I don't know if it was a complete set when he bought this binder, but it had to have been pretty darn close if it wasn't.
In the note he included, Wes said he took out a handful he needed and sent the rest over to me. The end result was easily around four hundred '84 Fleer singles, mine for the taking.
I've said this before, but 1984 is my personal favorite year for Fleer. The whole "blue painter's tape" design is downright genius.
And I don't own nearly as many cards from the set as I probably should.
As you might guess, this binder changed that in a hurry.
These are only a small sample of the greatness I found housed in the pack of nine-pocket pages. I'm rather fond of the pissed-off Rudy Law in the center, one of the more (in)famous pieces of early Fleer history.
I honestly don't know what I can say that could properly cap off such an astounding act of generosity.
A simple thank you doesn't seem strong enough.
I write stupid, silly thoughts about baseball cards every now and then and people like Wes feel the need to send things to me. Things like carefully categorized bags of cardboard or whole binders of '84 Fleer.
All because they think I might enjoy them.
What more does a guy need?