I already miss the National.
It's nothing short of cardboard heaven for collectors, and a small, kooky voice inside my head is telling me to start stowing money away so I can fly to Atlantic City for the 2016 National. I've always kind of had an inkling to see Atlantic City one day, and baseball cards would give me a perfect excuse.
Even if I do go next year, however, the trip is still eleven months away. The good news is that I can still live through both the cards I physically acquired at the National, and others I received in the mail right around the time I attended.
I was lucky enough to make two in-person trades at this year's convention, one of which was during my first meetup with longtime blogger buddy William of the terrific blog "Foul Bunt." (The other trade I made will be featured in an upcoming post.)
I had a big box of Orioles and others that I'd been saving for William for north of a year, so it was nice to finally get those in his hands. Better yet, he was nice enough to put together a team bag full of cardboard for me.
I picked up the base card of this 2015 GQ Vlad at the National, and now I have the mini to go along with it.
I can say with 100-percent certainty that this is the only Puddin' Head Jones card I own, because I think I'd remember if I had another card of a guy named Puddin' Head Jones.
On the right is one of the strangest photos you'll ever see in this hobby. It's actually a new addition to my sparse "Tribute to 42" mini-collection, but I'm not sure that was why William included it. You'll notice that it's technically an Ian Kinsler card, only Kinsler is nowhere to be seen in that particular photo.
I guess that's one way to get creative with the unlicensed photos in 2010 Upper Deck.
William closed things out with this Jim Abbott from 2011 Leaf Limited, a set I had no idea existed in the first place.
It's numbered to just 299 copies, and, despite the lack of logos, I love it.
Because any new Jim Abbott card is a treasure, plain and simple.
I had a handful of PWEs arrive on or around my day at the National.
Even with the stacks of gems I unearthed at the show, much of what I found in the envelopes did manage to stand out on its own. The first comes from Tim of the fantastic "I Love the Smell of Cardboard in the Morning," a blog which is sure to be in the running for Best New Blog of 2015.
Like William, Tim kicked off this PWE with a new addition to my Vlad collection with this nostalgic mini from 2005 Topps Cracker Jack.
I have very fond memories of opening packs of Cracker Jack in the backseat of my mom's car, hence the nostalgia.
I'd specifically requested these from Tim a little while before this envelope showed up.
This is the entire six-card 2015 White Sox Kids Club set, which includes five players and one goofy-looking mascot.
I don't get the chance to acquire many current oddballs these days (not many are produced to begin with), so having this group in my binders is a real treat.
From there, Tim went to work on my mini-collections.
Here's Donnie Baseball signing for a gaggle of Yankee fans.
I still think he needs to grow back that 'stache.
A couple for the "pitcher on the basepaths" and "double dip" themes, and the Kendrick is actually the first Toys 'R' Us parallel I own from any year of Topps.
I don't live near a Toys 'R' Us, and it doesn't seem like many other collectors have the urgency to go to one to get their baseball cards.
Luckily, Tim does.
This envelope produced my first and second purple Toys 'R' Us parallels, and I think they're fantastic. Like the Kendrick, this Salvador Perez is a treasured mini-collection hit (this one of the "interview" variety).
I never thought purple could mix with baseball cards, but Toys 'R' Us proved otherwise.
The final PWE of this post came courtesy of reader extraordinare Mark Hoyle.
Mark told me he was including one particular card in this envelope (which we'll see in a bit), but the rest he threw in were all surprises.
The GQ mini parade continued with this one of my personal favorite Cub, Anthony Rizzo.
There's another Rizzo sighting, this time of the blue foil Opening Day variety.
I've been collecting Javier Baez since he came up last year, and I have to say that I've been pleasantly surprised by his improvements after watching him as a September call-up here in 2015.
Hopefully he'll become a regular in the big leagues sometime soon.
Jorge Soler was a bit of a disappointment this year.
I had high hopes for him, but, although he was a decent bat in the lineup, the power never really came.
No matter, as I'll still collect him all the same.
Mark's PWE wasn't limited to just Cubs.
This outstanding Opening Day "Superstar Celebrations" insert captures the ice-meets-skin point of impact for Adrian Beltre.
I'm a big fan of 2015 Opening Day's "Stadium Scenes" insert set, and Mark was gracious enough to throw a couple of those my way as well.
There's no way to know for sure, but the card on the left could be from a Dodgers-Cards game I attended last July.
OH MY GOD ICHIRO ACTUALLY HAS A TOPPS CARD NOW!!!!!!
Ten thousand points to A&G for that.
Mark is the king of vintage oddballs, and this trio of 1969 Topps Stamps cemented that title.
I have absolutely no idea how to store these, but they're still cool nonetheless.
This was the only card I knew Mark was sending.
I announced my intentions to track down a '75 Yaz at the National, but Mark did me one better by offering to send one of his dupes to me. This isn't a particularly rare or expensive card, and I'm not quite sure how I hadn't tracked one down as of last month.
Thankfully, this whale of a PWE put that mystery to bed once and for all.
While the chances are minimal that I'll be able to attend the 2016 National, I'm going to try my darndest to go.
If not...well, I always have these special PWEs that only the blogosphere has the magic to produce.