Friday, May 30, 2014

State of the blog

Dear readers,

I have long seen brilliant minds behind other blogs post regular State of the Blog addresses in the past. Yet, for whatever reason, I have yet to compose one of my own in the two-plus years I've been in the blogosphere.

So, tonight, gather 'round for the inaugural State of the Blog address here on "Dime Boxes".

Where do I begin?

I've been in the blogging business for a while now, and I've loved every single minute of it. When I first started, there was absolutely no guarantee that it would become a long-term commitment of mine.

I figured I'd try my hand at it for a little while and see what it was like. I never expected to blog for more than a month or so. That month has turned into nearly two and a half years.

I'm proud to have developed a decent following of readers who enjoy what I write. I can't tell you how much I've enjoyed reading the other spectacular blog material all of you have written as well.

Of course, some great blogs have faded away over these two-plus years. On the flip side, though, it's been awesome to see so many great ones sprout up over the same time span as well.

There's no denying that the blogosphere is a well-oiled machine.

That's one of the things that keeps me coming back to it on a daily basis.

I don't know about the rest of you, but I find myself going back through my old posts fairly often.

It's hard not to notice the changes I've made to the blog during my time around here. Though the current state of "Dime Boxes" is good, the shifts I've made in my writing has done a great deal to maintain a good balance for this blog.

Some of my more longtime readers may remember that I used to regularly post two, three, even four times a day way back when. I'm still not sure how I wrote at such a backbreaking pace.

At times, I guess I'd force posts, feeling like I had to get something out in the open. I'd often pick a random card, perhaps a cool Negro League issue, and write a quick and often fairly incoherent post about it. I made it more about post frequency than actual fun in my early days.

It's not the same story here in 2014. I rarely, if ever, post more than once a day anymore. And the days I go without blogging has increased dramatically. I probably average five posts a week now, and I'm fine with that.

Blogging is only fun if you do it at your own pace.

I've made a conscious effort to shorten my posts around here lately.

A lot of my older writings feel like novels. Some posts I write have to be fairly lengthy. That's part of writing.

Still, reading through them now, some of my past posts were long for the sake of being long. If I posted a Marlon Byrd card, I'd tell you his life story for no apparent reason.

It's like The Stranger stopping himself at the end of The Big Lebowski. 

Look at me. I'm ramblin' again.

Short and sweet is the way to go.

My theme posts dominated this blog during the early days.

It felt like everything else was basically an afterthought. The main focus was on my random "Gems of Junk Wax" or perhaps "Into the Sunset" posts featuring guys like Rod Carew or Rollie Fingers.

It's not that I don't enjoy writing theme posts now. I do. It's just that they're not the main focus of my blog these days.

I'll toss in a "Sunset" post every now and then, but I've tried to focus more on trade posts and original ideas as of late.

After all, the original purpose of this blog was to have the more dime box mentality of never quite knowing what to expect on a regular basis.

I think that's more true now than ever.

Overall, the outlook for this blog is phenomenal.

I still have the same passion to write as I did two years ago. I still crave dime boxes every bit as much as I did when I started this blog. If not more.

In fact, the blogosphere accomplished something that I didn't think was possible. It made my dime box digs even more fun than ever.

Instead of simply searching for guys I collect, all of you have taught me to expand my horizons a bit. Now, I pick up cards that simply strike my fancy, regardless of whether I collect the player or not.

On top of that, I've developed an appreciation for oddballs that I never had before I started this blog. Whether it's old '70s Kellogg's oddities or more recent ones, it's been fun to see oddballs gain more and more of a presence around here.

Plus, I still get a great kick out of finding a card that I know another blogger will enjoy. I never had that feeling before I became part of the blogosphere.

The art of paying it forward is a feeling that's hard to put into words.

I don't know where I'll be in the next two years, but it's impossible to see my future without blogging.

It's become such an important part of my life during my time in the blogosphere. While I'd like to say that I write for only myself, the support and gratitude I've received from so many people around here has encouraged me to stick with blogging for the long haul.

So, whether you've been with me since the beginning or just discovered this blog yesterday, I tip my cap to you.

Writing for all of you has allowed me to discover a passion I never knew I had in the first place.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Inserts of the year

It's taken a long time for me to become the kind of collector I am today.

When I was little, I dabbled in baseball, football, basketball, and hockey cards. How I had the money to do such a thing is beyond me.

After a while, I switched to mainly baseball, although I still bought football packs every now and then. When I hit 7th grade, I went into an unprecedented year-long phase of nothing but hockey cards. I still can't explain why.

Once high school came along, baseball cards became my one and only focus. That hasn't changed. My collecting philosophies have changed and molded since then, but I've been accumulating nothing but baseball since about 2006.

Some of my first memories from those eight or so years ago involve plucking pack after pack of Topps Flagship off the shelves of my local Target. I was (and still am) a big Joey Gathright fan, and I specifically remember being excited over pulling this 2006 Topps Update single of his.

Flagship helped re-acclimate to the baseball card industry. No matter where I've been in my collecting ways since '06, I've always been a devout fan of Topps's oldest brand.

The base cards are the main focus for me, but the inserts add an interesting new layer to Flagship. It's interesting to go back through the years since I started collecting baseball cards and see which insert series worked and which didn't.

Recently, I tried to pinpoint my favorite insert sets from every year since 2006.

Here are my nominees.

2006 -- Rookie of the Week

My first year back in the hobby was an unusually drab one for inserts.

This was around the time when boring and unbelievably repetitive insert sets like "Mantle Home Run History" and "Generation Now" were all the rage. I wasn't impressed then, and I'm still indifferent now.

I had to cheat a bit for 2006 by nominating an insert set that wasn't even available in packs. You could only get these "Rookie of the Week" singles by buying a pack of Topps at your LCS at the time. I didn't even know these existed back in 2006, but I've picked up quite a few in dime boxes since then.

Each of these feature a player on the Topps design from their rookie year, though with a different photo than the original. A new one was available every week throughout the season in card shops.

I didn't discover these until I got to college, but I know my high school self would've gone crazy for them.

2007 -- Distinguished Service

The inserts in 2007 were almost as boring as the previous year.

Topps was still trying to capitalize on their Mickey Mantle monopoly by issuing strange sets such as "Unlock the Mick" and "Mickey Mantle Story". Most of the non-Mantle inserts were just as uninspired.

The lone saving grace was the "Distinguished Service" series.

I showed a couple of these in my Memorial Day post earlier this week. I still think they're among the most well-designed inserts of the last decade or so.

They pay tribute to past war heroes of both the baseball and non-baseball variety. Sluggers like Duke Snider were granted spots in the "Distinguished Service" set right alongside names such as Winston Churchill.

I still consider completing the 30-card series to be one of my proudest accomplishments as a collector.

2008 -- Trading Card History

Topps began to step up its insert game in 2008.

I was a big fan of both the "50th Anniversary Rookie Cup" and "Year in Review" checklists.

For me, though, the best inserts of the year came from the "Trading Card History" series. The set featured current stars on both old Topps and select pre-Topps designs.

What I like most about the set is that it stretches into some of the more obscure brands in history. This beautiful card of (then) hot prospect Phil Hughes stretches all the way back to the 1887 N284 Buchner Gold release.

It's obvious that Topps did their research for these "Trading Card History" inserts.

2009 -- Legends of the Game

You know me.

I'm a sucker for pretty much anything related to the Hall of Fame.

That's why I was such a big fan of the "Legends of the Game" series. No other 2009 inserts came close to these.

The design has a very heroic feel to it, which is fitting for a Cooperstown-based set like this one. Topps even notched a few extra points with their additional "Legends of the Game Updates" series, appropriately found in packs of Topps Update that year.

Among the set's highlights is this Honus Wagner card, the only one I've ever seen of his early days with the Louisville Colonels, who were in the National League around the turn of the century.

The fact that Topps put in the effort to colorize such old photographs was an added bonus.

2010 -- The Cards Your Mom Threw Out

As far as I'm concerned, 2010 was a hell of a year for inserts.

The fact that it was the first year of the dreaded monopoly may have overshadowed what a good job Topps actually did that year.

Turkey Red. History of the Game. History of the World Series. Tales of the Game. Topps 2020. Vintage Legends Collection. All are some of my favorite Topps insert sets.

The nod, however, has to go to the "Cards Your Mom Threw Out" series. Topps created a big splash in the industry with this one, coupling it with the successful "Million Card Giveaway" promotion that year as well.

Topps hit on another one of my weaknesses with these inserts. Reprints. "The Cards Your Mom Threw Out" checklist features a reprint of a card from every year, beginning with Flagship's inception in 1952 and stretching all the way until 2009.

You could tell that the executive minds down at Topps even had a little fun with it. Hence, the inclusion of the infamous Lew Burdette triple-error card.

Between having Burdette (a righty) posed as a lefty, the incorrect spelling of his first name, and the fact that there isn't a ball in his glove, Topps majorly screwed up with this one back in 1959.

I think they deserve a round of applause for adding it to their "Cards Your Mom Threw Out" series.

2011 -- CMG Reprints

Reprints again.

Although Topps tried to once again win my heart with their "60 Years of Topps" series, my favorite inserts of the year were these "CMG Reprints".

I find it strange that Topps chose to honor anything that they didn't produce, but that's exactly what they did in 2011. Similar to the "Trading Card History" series, these honor old and often obscure sets from the days of Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth.

Though I'll always love reprints, seeing the same ones honored over and over again can get stale. Many of these, however, were cards I'd never seen before.

Couple that with old pre-WWI cardboard and you've got a set that was destined to win me over.

2012 -- 1987 Minis

Topps officially started to get mini-crazy in 2012.

The idea of shrinking previous Topps designs and slapping current players onto them was a work of genius by Topps. I salivated for these when they hit the streets.

Part of that was because none of the other inserts in 2012 were all that exciting. Between "Golden Greats", "Gold Standard", "Golden Moments", and many more, it was the overdose of gold that no one wanted.

As we'd find out, though, a mini overdose was just beginning down at Topps headquarters.

2013 -- 1972 Minis

And it was still working.

A lot of other collectors were probably tired of minis when these were released last year, but not me. I loved the '87 design, and I was excited to see another of my favorite Topps sets honored in bite-sized form with these '72 minis.

Like 2012, though, there wasn't much else to focus on in the world of inserts. Topps adopted a rather boring "chase" theme last year that resulted in forgettable sets such as "Chasing the Dream" and "Chasing History".

Topps changed up the mini formula with 2013 Update, this time honoring the '71 design. Though 1971 is probably another one of my top five Topps sets in history, I like the '72 minis better.

They pop just a little bit more.

2014 -- Super Veterans

Here in 2014, though, I'm afraid to say that I might be getting a bit sick of minis.

This year's '89 minis are neat, but I think Topps is overstaying their welcome with the whole let's-shrink-old-designs formula.

Although it's still early, the inserts I've enjoyed most in 2014 are these "Super Veterans". They're are a nod to the 1983 Topps subset of the same name, coupling shots of a current star from his rookie season and the present day.

One thing that I didn't notice until I researched this post was the fact that my favorite inserts of the last five years (and six of the last seven) are either a rehashing of old designs or straight-up reprints.

I'm not sure whether that's due to a general love for reprints or simply apathy towards any of the other insert sets Topps creates these days. Probably a little of both.

I'm not sure what that says about the current state of Topps inserts.

I'll let you decide on that for yourself.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Kick out the jams

I've been blogging now for about two and a half years now.

Frankly, I can't believe it's taken me this long to come up with an idea for a post like this.

As I've mentioned many times in the past, music and baseball are my two true passions. If you read this blog at all, you probably know big of a baseball fanatic I am.

I haven't mentioned my music obsession as much as I'd like around here, though. While I've never been in a band, I've played guitar since about 8th grade. I switched my main focus to bass around four years ago, although I try to practice both as much as I can.

Finding new music has been a constant thread throughout my life. I've acquired a lot of my tastes through my dad, and I don't have the typical musical preferences of most people my age. Tunes from bands like R.E.M. and the Beach Boys get a lot of airplay in my world.

Because of how passionate I am about both topics, I try and track down any music/cardboard clashes I can find. They've been a main focus of my non-sport collection from the start.

One of my biggest successes as of late has been tracking down a few authentic Beatles cards. I was a bit of a late bloomer, but I've become a huge fan of the Fab Four since high school.

Thanks to a recent card show and my local flea market, I've added about a dozen new Beatles cards to my collection in the past few months.

I hope there's more to come.

I guess I'm generally a fan of the British Invasion as a whole.

I'm not sure there's ever been a better time for music. Part of me wishes I grew up in the '60s to witness bands like the Beatles and Rolling Stones first-hand.

Heck, Topps is still paying tribute to bands like the Stones. Coming from this year's Heritage "News Flashbacks" insert series, this is one of my favorite cards of 2014 thus far. (They had one in last year's Heritage as well.)

Who would've thought the Stones would still be playing more than fifty years later?

My non-sport collection has allowed me to experience some of the joy and anguish of set building.

Although Piece of History was a fairly forgettable brand, I made it a point to track down each of the 50-card "Historical Moments" subsets from 2008 and '09. It took me a while, but I managed to hand-collate each one.

This Woodstock piece is easily one of my favorites.

I'm not a huge fan of more psychedelic bands like the Grateful Dead, but I can certainly appreciate the impact they had on the music industry.

Although I'm still missing a few from last year and this year, I've tried to track down every Heritage "News Flashbacks" insert since their inception in 2009.

I remember going crazy trying to find the one that commemorated "The Day That Music Died". That said, I would've much rather have seen Topps use an actual picture of Buddy Holly (or Ritchie Valens or The Big Bopper) over a generic guitar.

Though I wouldn't say they're one of my favorite bands ever, I do like The Who quite a bit. Pete Townshend is one of the greatest minds music has ever seen.

My friend's stepdad is even in a Who tribute band. I went to see them a couple months ago.

It was an experience, I'll say that.

One of my go-to sets for musical cardboard is American Pie.

Though the original set was short-lived (only released in 2001 and '02), it features some of the best pieces in my non-sports collection.

If one musical landmark ever deserved to have its own card, it's Motown. This is the one type of music that I really wish more people my age would listen to and appreciate. I doubt much of today's music would exist without it.

Not to mention that the songs themselves are among the most solid and well-recorded in music history.

I don't think there's much denying that these are two of the biggest icons of the music industry.

Elvis put rock n' roll on the map more than pretty much any other artist, and Jimi Hendrix took guitar playing to a whole other level. I'm not good enough to even dream about playing any of his licks.

That's way out of my talent range.

I can't say I listen to much pre-rock stuff, but I know the bigger names from the past thanks to my dad's expansive musical knowledge.

Glenn Miller is one of the more well-known figures of the big band era. With famous tunes like "White Christmas" and "God Bless America", Irving Berlin has a catalog of over a thousand songs. That's mind-boggling to me.

I have a hard enough time writing one.

The 2009 Topps American Heritage and American Heritage Heroes releases are the only complete base sets I've ever hand-collated.

Each subset features historical figures on old Topps designs. American Heritage flew right past a lot of people's radars when it came out, but I still look at it as one of the greatest releases of the past five or six years.

I love seeing Flagship and Heritage on the shelves year after year, but this set was a nice change of pace. It fit so perfectly within my non-sport preferences.

It even featured a few musical icons on the memorable '75 Topps design. I managed to weave Duke Ellington into the paper I had to write for my history class this past semester, and I remember listening to the Gershwins' "Rhapsody in Blue" during the music class I took a few years ago.

If you're at all a fan of U.S. history, I encourage you to check out the American Heritage checklists.

It took me more than five years, but I own 98 of the 100 cards from the 2007 SP Legendary Cuts "Legendary Americana" insert set.

This was among the first ones I tracked down. Though he died at 27, Robert Johnson was one of the more influential blues guitarists in history. Eric Clapton and a lot of other artists have covered Johnson's "Crossroads" tune.

Plus, I remember my dad telling me that this is one of only two known photos of the old blues star.

That makes it a million times cooler in my eyes.

As far as I'm concerned, the absolute best source for musical cardboard comes from the 2011 Topps American Pie checklist.

It was a revival of the old American Pie brand. Unlike the original releases, however, this recent release was almost entirely comprised of non-sports figures.

Like American Heritage, American Pie didn't get a lot of airplay when it hit the shelves a couple years ago. I was still a rookie blogger then, but I don't remember many other people talking about it at the time.

As for me, though, I went out and bought the entire 200-card set within days of its release. I received it just weeks after I started this very blog.

Though American Pie features a slew of other American events and icons, I've never seen a set that better represents the music scene.

It covered just about everything.

Hank Williams. The Beatles. MTV. Michael Jackson. Nirvana.

And, most importantly...

...The Ramones.

The distinction of my favorite band is a two-way tie between the Beatles and the Ramones. The Beatles, as I've already discussed, are pretty well-covered in the realm of cardboard.

This, however, is the only Ramones card I own. I don't think any others exist.

I actually just watched the Ramones documentary for the umpteenth time earlier this afternoon. Whether you like them or not, I don't think there's much denying that music would not sound the same without the Ramones.

I doubt I would've taken a crack at playing guitar without them.

Topps earned about a million brownie points in my book by releasing this card.

Since this is a music post and all, I thought I'd share some tunes that have been on repeat for me lately.

Because of how grand the music scope is, I doubt it'll be long until I find a few more.


Monday, May 26, 2014

The Veteran All-Stars

I hope all my blogging buddies are having a great Memorial Day holiday.

With baseball, food, and time with the family, I always look forward to this time of the year. It's also important to remember why we celebrate Memorial Day in the first place.

I have had family members who have served and cannot thank the great men and women of our military enough. I'm glad to see that baseball is doing its part to honor the holiday with camouflage hats and jerseys.

As many baseball fans know, a lot of the game's biggest stars have served for our country. A lot lost prime years of their career due to their time in the military.

Having grown up in the era I did, it's tough to imagine a time where ballplayers missed prime chunks of their career to serve in the military. It's hard to believe baseball nearly shut down during World War II due to player shortages.

The fact that a lot of future stars and Hall of Famers walked away from the game they loved during wartime says everything you need to know about their American allegiance.

So, in honor of Memorial Day, I've done a little bit of research and put together my ballot for the Veteran All-Star team.

Much thanks to this site for all the wonderful information, by the way.


Christy Mathewson (World War I)

Christy Mathewson was already retired by the time he enlisted near the end of World War I.

He remains one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history. And, although you won't find his name on such lists, he tragically passed away as a direct result of the war.

While serving overseas with Ty Cobb, Mathewson accidentally inhaled a large amount of mustard gas during a botched chemical training exercise in 1918. Cobb escaped with only minor sickness, but "Matty" wasn't as lucky.

He died in 1925 from tuberculosis, a result of the sickness he contracted from chemicals during his time in the war.

Mathewson remains one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history, no doubt.

Bob Feller (World War II)

Bob Feller was the first ballplayer to enlist in the military after the Pearl Harbor bombings.

While in the Navy, he saw some combat later during the war in the Pacific. Feller missed four prime years of what turned out to be a dazzling career due to his service in the military, not returning to the game until late in the 1945 season.

I've always been fond of this particular card of "Rapid Robert" because I believe it features him with the Norfolk Navy team he pitched for during the war.

It's one of my favorite oddball pieces.

Whitey Ford (Korean War)

Ford went 9-1 for the Yankees as a 21 year-old rookie in 1950.

He then missed the next two years of his Hall of Fame-bound career after enlisting in the Army during the Korean War. Ford returned to the Yankees in 1953, not missing a step. He notched the first of 13 consecutive double-digit win seasons, going 18-6 that year.

It was the beginning of a long and prestigious career for Ford in the Bronx.

Hoyt Wilhelm (World War II)

As if I haven't given you enough reason to like Hoyt Wilhelm in this blog's history, I should note that the man put in his military time as well.

Wilhelm was actually signed by a minor league club out of high school in 1942, but missed the first three years of his professional career after enlisting in the Army. He saw combat in the war and was wounded during the Battle of the Bulge.

He returned to the game in 1946 and spent six seasons in the minors before debuting as a 29 year-old rookie with the Giants in 1952. Wilhelm made up for lost time, however, spending 21 seasons in the bigs and retiring just weeks before his 50th birthday in 1972.

Even with guys like Mathewson, Feller, and Ford, on the roster, any great team needs a bullpen anchor.


Yogi Berra (World War II)

Yogi Berra spent time in the Navy before ever playing professional baseball.

Having served on a craft that participated in the D-Day invasion, he was sent home after suffering a hand wound later in the war. It was then that he started playing in the minors, eventually earning a brief call-up with the Yankees in 1946.

It was the start of a long career that would end with Berra becoming one of the National Pastime's most well-known figures.

First Base

Hank Greenberg (World War II)

Hank Greenberg is one of my favorite figures from the annals of baseball history.

Much like Bob Feller, he missed nearly four full seasons of his prime due to military service. Greenberg was actually honorably discharged from the Army in December of 1941, but re-enlisted months later. He mainly served in administrative capacities during the war.

Greenberg came home to a hero's welcome in 1945, and would go on to blast a league-leading 44 homers the following year.

Though he only played 13 seasons in the majors, he was rightly inducted into Cooperstown in 1956.

Second Base

Jackie Robinson (World War II)

With all that he accomplished, people tend to forget that Jackie Robinson served in the military.

He enlisted in the Army in 1942, although a broken ankle he suffered in high school kept him from going overseas.

One of my favorite little bits of American trivia is the fact that Robinson was court martialed (but later acquitted) for refusing to move to the back of a military bus while stationed in Fort Hood.

Now that's foreshadowing.


Phil Rizzuto (World War II)

"Scooter" had two standout seasons with the Yankees in 1941 and '42 before enlisting with the Navy in 1943.

He served at the Norfolk base with Bob Feller until contracting malaria in the Pacific. The U.S. sent him to recover in Australia, where he coached the Navy baseball team.

Rizzuto, of course, would come back to have a Cooperstown-worthy career at shortstop, capturing the 1950 A.L. MVP Award thanks to his 125 runs and .324 average.

Though I wish I could've seen him play, I wish even more to have heard him announce for the Yankees during his time as a broadcaster.

The guy was a riot.

Third Base

Eddie Grant (World War I)

Eddie Grant may not be as famous as the other members of this squad.

He hit .249 in a ten-year career that ended in 1915. By 1917, Grant was completely out of baseball. That didn't stop him from becoming one of the first men to enlist in the army after America's entry into World War I, however.

He was promoted to the rank of captain before being tragically killed in action in France on October 5th, 1918.

I consider this card to be one of the centerpieces of my collection.

It's the only one I own of a ballplayer who paid the ultimate sacrifice to our country.


Joe DiMaggio (World War II)

"Joltin' Joe" was yet another star who lost prime years of his career to military service.

He enlisted in the Air Force in 1943, reporting to the Santa Ana Air Base in California. DiMaggio put together a 27-game hitting streak for the Santa Ana baseball team while serving.

Due to a serious stomach ailment, however, "The Yankee Clipper" never saw combat in the war. He was discharged in September of 1945.

Though I haven't talked about them as much as I'd like on this blog, I really like the look of these Distinguished Service inserts.

Stan Musial (World War II)

I liked them so much, in fact, that I put together the entire 30-card set when they hit the shelves in 2007.

It was one of my first major conquests upon returning to the hobby the year prior. I love how Topps managed to find military shots of guys like DiMaggio and a young Stan Musial.

"Stan the Man" was coming off a 1944 season that saw him hit .347 when he joined the Navy the following year, during which he was sent to Hawaii. Though he never saw combat, one can only imagine what Musial would've done with that extra year of his prime.

Especially considering he hit .365 upon his return to the game in 1946.

Ted Williams (World War II/Korean War)

"The Splendid Splinter" might be the most famous out of all the ballplayers who served in the military.

After posting batting averages of .406 and .356 in 1941 and '42, Williams enlisted in 1942. He received pilot training for much of his service during World War II, though the war ended before he could see combat.

However, seven years later, Williams returned to duty to serve during the Korean War. This time, he saw action, flying 39 combat missions and even having to come in for a dangerous crash landing on one occasion. He missed nearly the entire '52 and '53 seasons as a result.

Between World War II and Korea, "Teddy Ballgame" lost nearly five whole years of what is considered by some to still be the greatest career in baseball history.

What he could've done with an extra five seasons is mind-boggling.

There are a lot of former servicemen that I didn't mention in this post. Bill Dickey, Ralph Kiner, Pee Wee Reese, and many others all enlisted during World War II. Let's not forget the likes of Carlos May, Garry Maddox, and others who served during the Vietnam War as well.

When it comes to the military, however, absolutely all the men and women who have served our country are All-Stars.

Thank you.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Presidents, Penguins, and PWEs

Where do I even begin to tell the tale of the PWE?

When I began my online baseball card experience on the trading forums long ago, I shipped every trade in a bubble mailer. It didn't matter whether it was one card or a hundred.

At some point, though, I was hipped to the existence of the PWE. And I've been thankful ever since.

For just a single stamp, a PWE (short for "plain white envelope" in non-collector speak) can send another collector a healthy mix of cardboard. With the rapidly rising shipping costs for bubble mailers these days, the envelope has become more and more of a godsend.

In fact, I've had quite a few envelopes of gold hit my doorstep lately.

One came from Kerry of the terrific blog "Cards on Cards". He recently pulled this creased Chris Davis mini from a pack of this year's Flagship. (You can see it on the left side of the card.)

Although it's a blatant error on the part of Topps quality control, I don't usually let condition get in the way of cards I want.

I asked Kerry if he wouldn't mind sending Mr. Davis my way.

He graciously obliged, and even threw in a couple buddies to accompany Davis on his trip.

Kerry hit a couple more of my 2014 insert needs with these two. 

The Gonzalez just happens to be a new hit for my "zero-year" collection as well.

Out of the blue, I received a PWE from Adam of the awesome blog "ARPSmith's Sportscard Obsession" a little while ago.

Adam and I have been trading since the dawn of Dime Boxes, and I try to drop an unexpected package on him every now and then. This time, though, it was Adam who had the surprise.

I found a quartet of beautiful singles from the 1956 Topps Presidents checklist inside his PWE. Much like Topps's pre-1957 releases, these are slightly oversized. (That's the main difference between these and the '72 Topps Presidents offering.)

This is the type of set I wouldn't mind chasing. I can't imagine they'd be all that expensive, and a complete run would add an awesome notch to my Presidents collection.

Something to keep in mind.

One new blogging buddy I've made in recent months is Tony, author of the spectacular "Off Hiatus Baseball Cards".

I've noticed some consistencies in the past few repacks I've purchased.

Every one I open seems to contain singles from both the 1988 Pacific Eight Men Out...

...and the '92 Conlon Babe Ruth checklists.

I guess Tony is as big (if not bigger) of a repack nut as me, because he said he'd noticed the same thing from his breaks lately. He even offered to send me all the Eight Men Out/Ruth singles he'd pulled.

Eight Men Out is still one of my favorite baseball movies ever made, and I've always been a big Babe Ruth fan.

It only makes sense that I'd want as many cards from these sets as possible.

Better yet, Tony knocked out a "Dime Box Dozen" need with this one.

I'm now one step closer to having every single solo Topps card of Ron Cey, needing only his '84 Flagship issue to have the complete run from 1974 to '87. (Multi-player rookie issues aren't a huge concern for me.)

As you might guess, the '84 Topps "Penguin" will likely become a "Dime Box Dozen" need at some point down the road.

Unless, of course, someone has an extra they can spare.

I guess my appreciation for Pacific's Eight Men Out set is getting around.

Jack (a.k.a. "Baseball Dad") of the great blog "All Tribe Baseball" included this beauty in a recent batch of cardboard he sent my way.

If anyone else has any of these they'd like to unload, I'd be more than willing to take them off your hands.

Okay, I'll stop with the helpless pleas.


Between Johnny Damon oddballs and odd shots of Albert Belle, Jack sent along a bunch of randoms he thought I'd enjoy.

I'll certainly get a lot of mileage out of these two.

For me, though, this was the premier card from Jack.

Unfortunately, anything Bowman-related has a tendency to not scan very well. This one continued the trend.

Let me assure you, however, that this is a stunning 1999 Bowman International rookie of Dave Roberts. Though he doesn't have a ton of cards, I've always been a devoted collector of the speedster and current Padre coach.

Still, what made this particular piece stand out wasn't the front...

...but the back.

Though you wouldn't guess it from his name, Dave Roberts was actually born in Japan. Thus, this stunning International parallel has Japanese text on the flip side.

It's easily the new centerpiece of my Dave Roberts collection.

In a perfect world, I'm sure we'd all love to receive flat-rate boxes from our fellow collecting buddies every day of the week. Still, not every collector has the time and/or budget to put one of those things together.

That's why the envelope has found its niche in the trading community.

I think we can all agree that PWEs pack quite a punch.