I've been toying with new theme ideas in the months since my "Short Term Stops" posts came to an end.
I enjoyed the mechanics of the STS theme: it aligned closely with my team-centric organizational methods, which made the posts themselves fun to write. For that reason, I've wanted my new theme to be another team-based series, and my dad actually suggested something recently that got me thinking: how about putting together an all-oddball roster for each team?
I liked this idea for obvious reasons. I'm an oddball nut: slews of them are scattered amongst my team binders, and it'd be nice to have an opportunity (like "Short Term Stops") to collect the best of the best under a single virtual umbrella. So while I may tinker with the roster setup a bit, I'm planning on officially kicking off the Oddball Squads soon.
But still one kinda major question lingers in the interim: what the heck IS an oddball, anyway?
1970 Kellogg's #74 Tommy Harper
This is a question I've tried to answer a million times over throughout my life, and we might as well start with some easy ones (courtesy of my defunct- and/or multi-team collections).
For starters: food issues (Kellogg's, Hostess, Post, etc.) = oddballs about 99.99 percent of the time.
1991 Baseball Card Magazine #65 Fielder/Canseco/McGwire
(Mostly) gone are the days where one could receive cards with other baseball-related purchases -- namely, periodicals -- but the oddballs live on forever.
1977-84 TCMA Renata Galasso #22 Satchel Paige
Most cards not issued in pack form (TCMA, SSPC, Fleer League Leaders, etc.) qualify as oddballs to me since they weren't as widely distributed as store-bought Flagship sets.
1987 Pepsi Indianapolis Indians #2 "It Was Magic"
Minor league cards
While it can get confusing at times, I usually mix minor league cards into my big-league binders, but to me all minor league issues are oddballs (and some of them are even sponsored by food companies!).
1973 Laughlin Famous Feats #40 Wee Willie Keeler
Oversized cards (post-1956 Topps)
The dimensions of 1952-56 Topps and most early Bowman are considered oversized to us now, but those obviously aren't oddballs.
Pretty much anything oversized issued after '56, however, is an oddity to me -- even if they're often troublesome since I'm forced to store them outside of my standard nine-pocket pages.
1970 Topps Booklets #12 Mike Epstein
Vintage Topps inserts
Inserts have become almost as common as base cards nowadays, but it wasn't always that way.
It's almost hard to believe that there was once a time when inserts were something few people knew about, and for that reason, most vintage Topps inserts ('70 booklets, '77 cloth stickers, etc.) qualify as oddballs in my book.
1961 Golden Press #13 George Sisler
Topps obviously dominated the vintage market after Bowman's demise in 1955, but quite a few lesser-name sets managed to sneak out during their long hold on the monopoly.
Legend-exclusive checklists like Golden Press and Fleer Greats are among my favorite oddities, and even one-off current player releases of the time like 1960 Leaf are still oddballs to me.
Broders/other cards of unknown origin
The overproduction era was home to scores of unlicensed (and often homemade) oddballs, most of which almost nothing is known about today.
Most are generally called "Broders" (which I think I remember reading was the last name of the guy who made a lot of them), and quite a few of them populate my oddball collection today.
2011 Konami Baseball Heroes #144 Jonathan Albaladejo
Anything issued outside the USA (OPC, BBM, etc.) is an oddball to me because they had to cross country borders (and sometimes oceans!) to get into my collection.
1999(?) Fritsch '69 Senators Reunion #16 Frank Howard
The famous I-know-it-when-I-see-it theory definitely applies to the world of oddballs: in fact, only a handful of the ones I own snugly fit into any of the categories I just mentioned.
The rest are just one big undefined cornucopia of insanity. I know almost nothing about this Frank Howard card, for instance (I can't even remember where I got it), but I know it's an oddball. Of course it is. To me, oddballs are simply cards that exist on the outskirts of the cardboard universe, those weird interplanetary objects you need a telescope to see.
Maybe I'll add to this list at some point: but in the meantime, look for the Oddball Squads to begin soon -- I look forward to sharing my world of oddness with you.