Monday, August 31, 2015

Displaced action

I'd argue that this is the most fascinating baseball card ever printed.

For a long time, I couldn't figure out exactly why that was. Yes, it is an odd photo, but there are lots of odd photos on baseball cards. There was something about it that separated it from the rest of the pack.

What was it? It's a beautiful card, no doubt. You get a glamorous shot of a part of Fenway Park that isn't often seen on baseball cards (including a line of blue-shirted groundskeepers), and a glimpse into the quirky personality of Wade Boggs in the process.

But that wasn't it, and I didn't discover what it was for a while. I don't know whether I realized it on my own or if someone pointed it out to me, but, on one magical day, I finally knew why this card captivated me so.

What makes this gem stand on its own is the fact that Wade Boggs is cheering for another teammate's accomplishments. He has nothing to do with the action that caused the celebration in the first place, and yet he is the one who go the baseball card out of it.

My mind was blown.

I immediately set out to find how many other instances of this phenomenon I could find...and soon discovered that they were few and far between.

I've taken to calling these "displaced action" shots, meaning that, like the Boggs, the player featured on said card is merely an bystander to the event that is happening outside of the cardboard frame.

Bill Spiers here is a prime example, in that he is trying to will a "safe" call for the disembodied legs of an Astro teammate after he himself had (presumably) already crossed home plate.

I found a couple instances of this with 2007 Upper Deck.

Like Boggs, Scott Hatteberg is celebrating a game-winning homer clubbed by an unseen Reds teammate, awaiting him at home plate. (Also, Ken Griffey Jr. cameo alert.)

I'm almost positive that the shot on that Craig Monroe was snapped just after Magglio Ordonez's pennant-clinching dinger in Game 4 of the 2006 ALCS crossed the outfield wall.

Arms raised in joy for something out of his control.

Topps seems to have some kind of fascination with Greg Dobbs and "displaced action," as he received two cards of the sort in consecutive years.

In 2012, he was seen giving a piggyback ride to a fellow Marlin (Hanley Ramirez, I think) at home plate. The following year, Topps went with a shot of him giving an emphatic SLIDE!!!! signal to an approaching baserunner.

Maybe he'll get to bask in the glory of his own accomplishments on a baseball day.

Jose Guillen is seen here pointing a Royal teammate to one side of home plate, probably to avoid a tag.

Other than that, however, we have absolutely no idea what was going on outside of the frame at the time.

I think that sort of mystery is part of what makes these kinds of cards so intriguing to me.

Most of this "displaced action" seems to happen at or around home plate, but I've found at least one instance of it occurring elsewhere.

It's tough to tell whether this yell is of pain or joy, but Kevin Brown is obviously reacting to some dramatic event that happened somewhere behind him on the diamond.

Once again, however, we collectors have absolutely no idea what that event was.

And we're back to Boggs.

This card, and this card alone, inspired an entire post, an entire semi-rambling pontification on the points-of-view on baseball card photos, and a rather expansive dig through my binders in search of similar pieces of cardboard. That's the mark of a surefire legend.

I have no idea if anyone besides myself will find this post enthralling or interesting in any way, but there's just something about this "displaced action" idea that sucked me in. It's one of those strange, seemingly unimportant cardboard occurrences that make me realize why I get so much joy out of collecting.

Now I know why I'm so mesmerized by this Wade Boggs card. That's taken care of, at least. But now I'm left to wonder exactly why I find the idea of "displaced action" so mesmerizing in the first place.

One dilemma is solved, another begins.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

The dime box frankenset, Page 5: Numbers 37-45 (with a minor tweak)

Let's take a look at how last week's frankenset voting played out.

Win -- 1973 Topps #35 Willie Davis (12 votes)

Place -- 1999 Stadium Club #34 Turner Ward (9 votes)

Show -- 2002 Ultra #31 Ramon Hernandez (7 votes)

Despite the fact that we had a slew of worthy candidates last week, I kind of had a feeling that the oddball beauty of 1973 Topps would win out in the end. The brushbacked Willie Davis earned twelve of the 35 total votes (including mine) to take the crown.

He's already the eighth different champion we've had from '73 Topps, which is far and away the most winners we've had from any single set in the frankenset voting thus far.

As fate would have it, '73 Topps has a chance to repeat with not one, but two different nominees on this week's page.

Before we get to that, however, I'd like to announce a minor tweak I'll be making with these frankenset posts. Between work and school, the only days I'll likely be guaranteed to have at least a little free time for blogging will be Mondays. Since I'd like to try my best to make these posts a weekly occurrence on this blog, I'll be moving this theme to Mondays for the foreseeable future.

That means (for this week, anyways) that you'll have an extra day to vote on our newest crop of frankenset hopefuls, so let's meet them.

1995 Pinnacle #37 Tom Pagnozzi

Let's hope he didn't say the magic word. 

1996 Score #38 Bip Roberts

Sombrero Bip! 

2014 Topps #39 David Murphy

Post-home run jubilation. 

1971 Topps #40 Lee May

Holding the runner with the rebirth of action shots from '71 Topps.

1994 Topps #41 Kevin Wickander

Amongst the dugout paraphernalia. 

1973 Topps #42 Mike Andrews

Turning two with '73 Topps, the frankenset favorite.

2012 Topps Chrome #43 Desmond Jennings

A rather chromey play at the plate. 

1997 Collector's Choice #44 Rick Krivda

Tastes like chicken. 

1973 Topps #45 Ellie Rodriguez

We close with another gem from '73 Topps, and a particularly wild action shot, at that.

The polls are now on the sidebar.

Happy voting!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

I survived a JBF mega box, Pt. 2: The packs

As I recounted in my last post, Dime Boxedonia was recently hit with an infamous JBF mega box.

The singles Wes packed into this mega mailer spanned across five smaller boxes and a slew of other miscellaneous cards. You'd think that'd be enough for the guy, but, then again, one should never underestimate the insanity of the legend of JBF.

If the mounds of singles didn't convince you of that, than this image should. That, my friends, is the sum total of the unopened packs that made it into this mega addition to all those cards from my last post, mind you.

So, as if sorting and plucking gems from the singles wasn't enough, this mailer also provided me with the opportunity to open a plethora of packs, nearly all of them ranging between 1987 and 1992. Call it a custom JBF hobby box, if you will.

Let's dig in.

We might as well start with the only pre-1987 packs of the box, which, as you may have noticed from the introductory photo, was a pair of 1981 Topps Supers.

The packs had a single card in each, and both ended up being Rangers. The first of the two resulted in a Jim Sundberg. While I'm sure Sundberg is a heckuva guy, I was way, way, way more excited to pull none other than Al Oliver from the second pack.

"Scoop" is (and always will be) one of my all-time favorite ballplayers, and I like him even more now that I know he wore a silver SCOOP necklace, which you can see just above his collar in this photo.

The unopened packs were already a surefire success at this point.

Everything else was pure bonus.

Wes included a single pack of 1991 Stadium Club in this gargantuan box, and, while I'm not quite sure how he did it, I think he managed to turn it into some kind of hot pack crafted to fulfill my specific collecting interests.

In addition to this wonderful horizontal shot of Mr. Trammell...

...the pack contained not one, but two different White Sox throwback cards I needed.

I don't know what kind of dark hobby magic you're working, Wes, but thank you.

Also included was a rack pack of 1989 Topps and a standard pack of 1990 Fleer.

Now, while I can't say I'd want to bust a box of either of these sets anytime soon, there is something innately special about opening packs of the stuff every now and again. It's like a little cardboard time machine that I get to ride in during the thirty seconds it takes for me to absorb a pack of baseball cards.

And, hey, against all odds, I actually pulled a couple cards I needed from each of the two. The card on the right further convinces me that Willie McGee is just about the most unphotogenic person in the history of baseball (or human existence, for that matter), and the Biggio is a rookie card of a newly-minted Hall of Famer.

That's about the best you can get from 1989 Topps.

There were two different packs of 1991 Fleer in this box, one standard, one jumbo (or "fat pack," as I believe they were called at the time).

As much as I'd like to say that one of the banana-yellow beauties was my favorite of the lot, this Barry Larkin insert wound up stealing the show.

I absolutely love the All-Star Team design, and I kinda wish Fleer would've used it for one of their base sets at one time or another.

The madness grew with packs of '88 Score and '91 Topps Traded.

These packs turned out to be educational as well, as I had no idea that early '90s Topps Traded was ever issued in wax pack form.

Dave Justice and Jack Morris represent the packs of '92 Pinnacle and '92 Studio that found their way into this mammoth mailing.

I've often thought about trying to obtain an unopened pack from every brand from the year I was born  (1992) and keeping them as some kind of memento.

Then again, unopened packs and I don't get along too well...the urge to bust 'em is just too strong.

Both Leaf's 1991 and '92 offerings made appearances as well.

I always enjoy getting new cards of the elder Griffey, and I'm sure that Black Gold "Big Hurt" went for a pretty penny back in the day.

Just when I'd whittled the packs down to a precious few, a pile of unopened boxed sets fell out of this never-ending box of greatness.

The first of the bunch was from the 1987 Fleer League Leaders brand, 44 cards in all. Quite a few future Hall of Famers, and a bunch of other big names as well.

And get a load of Doc in that generic Mets t-shirt.

Next up was the 1990 Upper Deck High Numbers series, the "UD Update" of its day.

Included here is a zero-year Alex Cole (a rare occurrence for Upper Deck), a Dave Justice rookie, and what I have to believe is John Franco's first card as a Met, among many other gems.

And here I was thinking I had everything I needed from 1990 Upper Deck.

My personal favorite of the boxed sets was the smattering of 1986 Topps Superstars.

I'd picked up a few from this checklist here and there over the years, but almost all of them were new to me. Aside from general player collection hits like the Carter and Gwynn, this set provided a handful of treasured sunset hits with the Carew, Oliver, and Foster.

Long live yellow borders!

All in all, however, I think my favorite pack of this mega box didn't have anything to do with baseball at all.

The 10-card pack of 1991 Pro Set Music Cards, at least on a purely entertainment level, was likely the most fun to open, partly because it came smack dab in the middle of a strange time for music.

The set honors legends like Bob Marley and The Who (who headline the poster in the center of this page), but it also reminds us that Vanilla Ice was once considered worthy of being mentioned in the same breath as Bob Marley and The Who.

If there was a "hit" in this pack, this was it.

Granted, I've never been a huge fan of ZEPPELIN, but, no matter how you slice it, they were one of the biggest bands in rock history. (Interestingly, my favorite song of theirs is probably among their shortest.)

Random thought: For better or worse, I still can't hear "Kashmir" without thinking of Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

And, with that, this behemoth comes to a close. I think these two posts give you a pretty good idea of how fun this thing was to open. Singles, unopened packs, Coca-Cola had it all, and then some.

I still don't know how the guy does it, but Wes is, and forever will be, the king of the mega box.

He deserves a collective round of applause.

Monday, August 24, 2015

I survived a JBF mega box, Pt. 1: The singles

Somehow, I had to know this day was coming.

After witnessing the multiple battles between the immortal (and slightly insane, if you ask me) Wes of "Jaybarkerfan's Junk" and numerous members of the blogosphere, I guess I should've known that the war was going to strike my cozy little suburban home here in Illinois.

Perhaps against my better judgment, I entered a contest on the JBF blog a little while back that advertised a "large flat-rate box filled with random goods" for the winner, and, to my surprise (and horror), I actually won. The behemoth arrived a few days later.

I cannot stress enough how giant this thing was. JBF had bombed me a few times before, but never with anything close to this caliber. And it wasn't even all cards, mind you. Inside, I found a Coca-Cola frisbee, a grocery list pad with the word MILK written on the first line of every single page, and a bunch of other tchotchkes.

Like I said, the guy's insane.

But, yes, as I said, there were cards...many, many cards.

There were so many cards, in fact, that I had to divide this post into two halves, something I almost never do with trade posts. This first one will focus on the loose singles that fell out of this mammoth.

As you might be able to tell from the photo at the top of the post, there were a handful of little white boxes within the mega box (five of them, if I recall), all packed to the gills with cardboard. A couple were all football and/or basketball, but the others were nothing but baseball.

And, although it took a lot of sorting and sifting (more than a days' worth), I did end up with a hearty stack of cards I needed.

This pre-F*** Face Billy Ripken rookie was just the beginning.

As I was going through the box, I had absolutely no idea what would spill out next.

There were cards from almost every era imaginable, everything from a '93 Fleer Tony Gwynn to a 2013 Bowman issue of Adam Jones, the subject of one of my newest player collections.

It was as comprehensive as trade packages come.

Cards from the mid '90s are among my favorites to receive via trade because of how little I find of them at card shows and the like.

I'm especially partial towards mid '90s Fleer, because matte rules.

A couple backstop-centric shots from early Stadium Club here.

When it comes to baseball cards, I'll take catchers in action over any other position on the diamond.

This mega box went heavy with the '90s Stadium Club, which was, of course, fine by me.

SC is obviously strong all around, but I've always enjoyed the horizontals a touch better than the verticals. Some cards just need that landscape orientation for full effect.

These four included.

A couple of the boxes-within-the-box were almost exclusively comprised of early '80s singles.

I've dug up most of what I need from that era at this point, but, every once in a while, I'll discover new ones that had somehow flown under my radar. These two were in that mold, and were most certainly welcome additions to my binders.

And, while I have '84 Fleer fresh in my memory... of the cards in this monster helped complete a long-awaited combo for me.

I'd long had that Al Oliver "Superstar Special" in my collection without ever obtaining its other half. I didn't even know who it was, to be honest. Turns out, the missing link was Tim Raines himself.

This box finally completed the pair.

Here's a couple of gems from '84 Topps that were all new to me.

The Alan Knicely (no, I've never heard of him, either) is a fine night shot, and you know I can't pass up the opportunity to post a Rusty Kuntz card.

These nine cards don't have much in common, but there is a reason I showcased them together in a page.

You may be able to tell from the photo at the top of the post that this mega box included a smattering of nine-pocket pages. Such a sight made me nothing short of ecstatic because, as a binder guy, I can tell you that I am always, always, always in the market for those.

But, as if that stack of about 80 nine-pocket reinforcements wasn't enough, there were also cards in them. Some of what I've shown already came from said pages, as well as each and every one of the nine you see above.

Extra nine-pocket pages and about killing two birds with one stone.

You may also notice a small case of cards in the top-righthand portion of the introductory photo.

Those were all hand-picked Vlads from Wes, and I needed a good portion of the ones he selected. Many were numbered and/or otherwise tough inserts to find, and one was even a jersey cards that I actually liked, mimicking the groundbreaking '97 UD Game Jersey design.

Normally, it'd be almost impossible for anything to top such a brilliant assortment of Vlads...

...but I think big Shooter and little Shooter may have done it.

This masterpiece fell out of one of the aforementioned nine-pocket pages, and I'm not sure whether it was specifically planted there as a result of my newly-declared Rod Beck project or merely a coincidence.

Either way, I think it may well be my new favorite card in my budding collection of his. I've said it before, and I'll say it again...but I'm sure not exactly sure what took me so long to start collecting the guy.

So that just about does it for the singles that fell out of this colossal flat-rate whale, but, as you may have guessed, there was a whole other component to this box that I'll be recapping in Part Deaux of this mini-series.

I'll leave you with the assurance that, yes, I survived a patented JBF mega box, and yes, I am alive and well.

A little scarred perhaps, but well.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The dime box frankenset, Page 4: Numbers 28-36

Let's take a look at how last week's frankenset voting played out.

Win -- 1972 Topps #19 Billy Cowan (18 votes)

Place -- 2001 Stadium Club #24 Pete Harnisch (5 votes)

Show (tie) -- 1999 Stadium Club #21 Darren Oliver, 1993 Upper Deck #27 Dave Nied (3 votes each)

It wasn't even close. The angelic Billy Cowan crushed the competition last week, taking 18 of the 34 total votes, including mine. Honestly, I felt bad for the other nominees because there were quite a few other spectacular pieces in that page. (The Pete Harnisch, specifically.)

But, in the end, the right guy (or card) won.

We're back with a batch of nine new hopefuls this week.

Let's meet them.

1984 Fleer #28 Bob Dernier

An interview with NBC.

2002 UD Victory #29 Olmedo Saenz

Throwing it back to the days of the 1901 Philadelphia A's. 

2013 Sega Card-Gen #30 Jason Kipnis

Double dipping the Card-Gen way. 

2002 Ultra #31 Ramon Hernandez

A high-five for little Mark. 

2010 Upper Deck #32 Kyle Phillips

One of the best broken bat shots you'll ever see, even if Upper Deck slapped that ugly RC logo in quite literally the worst spot possible. 

1997 Upper Deck #33 Scott Servais

Preparing for a brutal collision at Wrigley. 

1999 Stadium Club #34 Turner Ward 

Eat my dust.

1973 Topps #35 Willie Davis

Chin music! 

1994 Topps #36 Felix Fermin

We close with a cameo from Rickey on this turning two shot.

The polls are now on the sidebar.

Happy voting!