Every collection has them. No matter how long you've been collecting, or how big your collection is, chances are you have gaps: those seemingly common, easy-to-find cards that, for whatever reason, you've never been able to track down, and in some cases, didn't even know existed.
Take this card, for instance, which was recently sent to me as part of a large trade with Bo of "Baseball Cards Come to Life!" (one of my very favorite blog names). I'd long assumed Topps was the only major brand to document Baylor's half-season as a Twin. But then one night during an otherwise mundane stroll through the internet, I discovered that he'd had a Twins card in 1988 Fleer this whole time.
Needless to say, it automatically went on my Dime Box Dozen list, where it sat until Bo knocked it off not too long after.
Overproduction-era cards like that '88 Baylor and this '85 Topps Guidry -- another former Dime Box Dozen need -- were so common that I'm sure they were used as kindling in many American homes.
I can understand if a card from some one-off set like Fleer Brilliants or something like that flies under my radar. But '85 Topps? I have hundreds of unwanted singles from sets like these scattered in boxes under my bed. How could one I actually need have passed me by this whole time?
Even worse was the fact that I'd already owned Guidry's OPC issue from 1985, which made this gap all the more gaping and thus much more satisfying when Bo sent it my way.
The Baylor and Guidry were the only specific needs I knew Bo was sending, but they weren't the only gaps he'd wind up filling.
These two? Gaps. Like '88 Fleer and '85 Topps, I have tons of extra '81 Fleer singles strewn around my room. But yet these two of Larry Bowa (a guy I collect) and Lynn McGlothlen (needed for the excellent ivy shot and ballbag cameo) were nowhere to be found in my collection.
Just...how did I not already have these?!
I still need many, many cards from the last decade or so, but I don't know if I'd necessarily call them gaps just because there's so many brands around these days.
All these are player collection needs and thus much appreciated, but they weren't quite as haunting as the aforementioned Baylor and such.
In addition to him knocking out those pressing gaps in my binders, Bo's an easy guy to trade with because we collect a lot of the same things.
Among the goods I received was this page of mini-collection needs, my favorite of which is probably that fantastic '70s Braves throwback in the center.
Another quartet of terrific randoms.
I'm tempted to call that Jefferies a gap because of how much Collector's Choice I already own, but really I don't think anyone can ever discover all the beauty Collector's Choice has to offer in a single lifetime -- it's inevitable that a few would slip by.
I've often thought about starting an equipment mini-collection for cards like these.
Bo really laid it on with the oddballs, starting with these Fleer Stamps that are doubled in greatness by things like ESPN mikes and Warren Spahn cameos.
Oddballs are always welcome in this home.
Especially '90s oddballs.
Bo actually sent me a second package not too long after that filled yet more gaps in my collection.
I discovered the Madlock not too long after the Baylor, and my first reaction was WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON WITH ALL THIS '88 FLEER I STILL APPARENTLY NEED?! That goes doubly so for the Madlock, which is also a sunset card I somehow didn't already have.
My Doc Gooden collection is still fairly new, but either way I'm shocked I didn't already own his '87 Topps single given that I probably own more '87s than any other Topps set.
Most collectors have scores of commons from sets like these around their rooms, and I bet most of them couldn't tell you exactly where they came from in the first place.
I know I couldn't say exactly why I have so much '88 Donruss or where the heck I got them, but they're just kind of...there. But not just there were any of these cards, which I very much needed.
Four more gaps filled.
Some entire sets can be gaps, in a way: I didn't appreciate how great 2009 Topps was until years later when most of them became buried in people's card rooms and garages.
Thankfully, some people like Bo still have them handy to help me appreciate all the gems I missed the first time around.
Oddballs are never gaps, which is probably part of the reason I enjoy collecting them so much.
I long ago resigned to the fact that I'd never discover all the oddball sets out there -- that, in turn, removes a lot of the pressure of tracking them down and makes them such a joy to receive.
Don't get me wrong, it's a pleasure to secure long-awaited gaps in my collection, but the reaction I have upon filling them is more muted, usually something along the lines of THANK GOD, FINALLY.
Whereas a card like this one -- a superb Squirt oddball (oh the days when cards came with your soft drinks) of Dave Winfield -- elicits more of a spontaneous WOW, COOL!!! response.
But fact is that gaps come with the territory of card collecting -- the only thing you can really do is accept that and get on with your life as best you can knowing that '85 Topps Guidrys and '88 Fleer Baylors will always be out there, laughing in your face.