I remember reading once that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert at something.
I don't know if it's possible to be a "baseball card expert," but if it is, I sometimes catch myself wondering if I'm on the verge of reaching expert status by now. I have, after all, been collecting basically non-stop since I was about seven years old. It might not add up to 10,000 hours, but that's still quite a few punches on the time clock.
It's weird: I've never been much of a visual learner, yet I feel fairly confident about my ability to identify most cards in mere seconds. Take this Goldy, for example. I received it as part of a trade package from Jim (aka GCRL) of "Cards as I See Them," and I'm sure most non-collectors would look at it and say What's with the coin? And why is it so THICK?
Right off the bat, however, I knew it to be one of the blaster-exclusive manurelics Topps has been pawning off on us for a few years now.
There's another Goldy from Jim (from this year's Diamond Kings checklist) along with a 2016 Stadium Club "Contact Sheet" insert of Nolan Arenado, the subject of one of my newest player collections.
While many of today's insert designs have a tendency to bleed together, I do my best to keep them separated and categorized in my memory through repetition and practice.
A couple Cubbies including an ultra-sparkly megabox exclusive Dexter Fowler (I miss him), and a Schwarbs from this year's actually-not-terrible Donruss release.
I've trained my eye to be able to pick out mini-collection hits on the spot, and I like to think I've unintentionally done the same for some of my more consistent trading buddies.
Jim caught these two themed hits of "pitcher at the plate" Larry Anderson (Mother's Cookies alert!) and a tip of the cap from Barry Bonds, who, despite being one of my least favorite figures in baseball history, warrants a mention here.
But facts are facts: I'm no expert, nor should I pretend to be.
I'm reminded of this every time someone sends me something that leaves me stumped -- and it happens often. If Jim didn't send me this complete oddball set, he sent me darn near the whole thing, and there was only one problem: I didn't know what the heck it was.
They're clearly produced by Score, but what's with that P&G logo in the right-hand corners? A little research tells me that "P&G" stands for Procter & Gamble, a grocery store that offered these mail-order All-Star sets in 1992 for $1.49 a pop with three proofs of purchase and a special coupon available in most periodicals at the time.
The more you know.
Here's something that has me completely flabbergasted apart from the obvious fact that IT'S A NEW HOYT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
There's no factory listing, no copyright, no anything listed on this massively oversized Hoyt oddball from Jim. The only thing that might help narrow things down is the fact that the knuckleballer is pictured during his brief stint with the Dodgers at the tail end of his career, which leads me to believe that it was printed sometime around 1971 or '72.
Any help in identifying this piece of Hoyt legend would be more than welcome, because no matter what I might like to think sometimes, I'm still a long, long ways from becoming an expert in this hobby.
Only 4,348 more hours to go!