It's almost hard for me to believe these days, but there was a time in my life where I didn't think twice about oddballs.
I was, by all accounts, a major-brand type of guy. I only sought out oddballs if they fit into my player collections. I didn't much care about them if they didn't serve the sole purpose of padding the numbers of those collections. I didn't appreciate the sheer, unabridged joy of the odd side of this hobby.
These days, I'm a full-on oddball nut, and I largely have the blogs to thank for that. Especially Tony of "Wrigley Roster Jenga" fame, who has stuffed the countless PWEs he's sent me with an equally countless number of oddballs.
Take the card you see above, for example: the glorious debut appearance of the Israel Baseball League in my collection (featuring two young catchers, Juan Ramirez and Michael Olson).
Seriously, how could I not love a card with Hebrew on the back?
Tony attuned me to the fact that my subconscious had been accumulating more Wally Joyner cards as of late.
Collegiate uniforms and holograms most definitely make for oddballs in my book.
A supreme quartet of oddities from Tony, including cardboard ranging from Japanese origins to Hallmark.
And count me among the many who never knew Dairy Queen produced baseball cards.
A second PWE from Tony kicked off with a rare non-oddball get, though it was nevertheless a card I had specifically requested from him in the past.
In addition to featuring a cameo from the late Jose Fernandez (RIP), this Jonathan Lucroy parallel serves as a fine addition to my "anthemic" mini-collection.
But it was back on the oddball train from there, including a high school-era Ryan Express and a Robbie Alomar from the good people at Mootown Snackers (does that company even exist anymore?).
Even major-brand cards can still be counted as oddballs in my book.
It doesn't get much more odd than the sheer insanity that was Metal Universe back in the day, and acetate cards sure look odd when you put them in a binder.
I've had the good fortune to accumulate quite a few of these '90s White Sox team set oddballs, but this might be well my new favorite, thanks to the "Good Guys Wear Black" caption.
Finally, Tony and I completed an in-person trade when we met up at a local card show earlier this year, one of the few face-to-face deals I've ever had the pleasure of making.
This terrific Johnny Evers oddball topped the stack of cards Tony gifted me, and I love it even though I'm not quite sure what it is, exactly.
Though it does further confirm my hypothesis that, judging from the cards/photos I've seen of him, Johnny Evers never once smiled (which might explain his nickname: The Crab).
Also among the goods was this new addition to my "plays at the plate" mini-collection.
Though they're not by-the-book oddballs, horizontal A&Gs have always struck me as a bit jarring.
A couple for the "tip of the cap" archives, including the Jeter, which inspired a prior post of mine.
I can never turn down sweet shades on a baseball card, and the Oh is yet another Japanese card Tony was generous enough to donate to my collection.
I'm no video gamer, but Oh might have the best nickname in baseball today: The Final Boss.
We'll close things out with yet another seemingly oxymoronic major-brand oddball with Mr. Sano here.
These retro Bazooka-themed singles were inserts in the 2013 Topps Heritage Minors release and are unquestionably awesome. An added bonus is the fact that I actually collect Miguel Sano (and I happen to think he'll have a big year in 2017).
This massive oddball journey from Tony is a great indicator of why oddballs continue to be such a pleasurable facet of this hobby. Major-brand cards may keep the industry afloat, but -- from Israel to Japan, from Dairy Queen to Mootown Snackers -- oddballs are the soul of it.
I can't imagine what my collection would look like without them.