As I sit here typing from my room in suburban Illinois, the rest of the world can often seem so far away.
But one of the things I love about blogging and baseball cards is that sometimes they allow that distant world to come to you. I own a handful of cards exclusive to cities, states, and even countries way off the map from my Chicagoland home, and I think that's beautiful. Still, in all this time I've never quite experienced a package that supplied the basic feel of a place like the surprise box I received from Mr. Zappy of "Torren' Up Cards" a while ago (the only thing better than a box of baseball cards is a box of baseball cards I wasn't expecting).
I'm not exaggerating when I say that this Zippy Zapping was like a trip to Japan all taped up and stuffed into a single box...
...and I had to remove a good portion of what was in there to get an image that showed even a fraction of the fun inside.
This isn't the first time a Zapping has almost given me a heart attack -- remember when he sent me a T206 Hal Chase? -- but there's no doubting this is right near the top of trade packages I've received during my blogging career. I mean, first thing I saw once I broke the seal of the box was a huge stack of programs, magazines, and other larger items that aren't your everyday trading material.
All cool stuff, but my personal favorite of the non-card lot was far and away the Yankees-centric magazine (didn't know those existed) with Ichiro on the cover, of course.
Sure, there was a fair amount of your standard MLB cards and names...
...including oddballs and mascots and mini-collection hits!
And even a hearty helping of minis!
But the majority of this Zapping -- and by far the part I found most compelling -- was the absolutely unbelievable assortment of Japanese cards in there.
Regular readers of this blog probably know of my fascination with Japanese baseball, and the cardboard that goes along with it. In spirit, this package made me imagine myself as an American abroad in Japan, a gaijin. Part of the reason I get so excited over Japanese cards is that they're pretty much all new to me, and therefore interesting, thrilling.
I have no idea who's shown on this card, or even what it is exactly, but you can't sit there and tell me it ain't cool.
Only in Japan will you find cards of dudes getting tossed into the air, or promotional cards with pictures of jerseys on them (rather than actual swatches).
I'm somewhat familiar with the general history of Japanese baseball, but I admit I don't know a lot about the specific players and teams within it -- I don't even know much about the cards themselves aside from the fact that BBM is basically like Topps over there (I think?).
Most of the names and sets in this page are mysteries to me, but part of the beauty of getting them is that it doesn't matter one bit: they're all fantastic.
Some of my favorite Japanese cards in this Zapping were the ones that featured American players -- including this strange card-game set that features very Funko Pop-like depictions of said players on the back.
This Zapping threw knockout punch after knockout punch: after the Card-Gens came an entire stack of 2002 Topps Kanebos.
These basically parallel the 2002 Topps set, only they have Japanese on the back -- which makes the cards of Japanese stars like Ichiro and Hideo Nomo doubly neat.
Japanese do shiny and First Pitch cards just as well as us.
Japanese mini-collection hits!
I'm an instant fan of all Japanese cards, but Japanese cards of guys who played/are playing in the US (gaijin opposites?) are supreme for me since I actually recognize names like Tanaka and Maeda.
And have I mentioned this Zapping included my first Japanese card of Shohei Ohtani?!
It seriously took me an entire night just to process and soak everything in from this incredible feat of blogging kindness. To call it sensory overload would be an understatement: this box, and the cards inside it, basically took me to a different side of the world. And while I've never physically been to Japan, there's a part of me that almost knows what it feels like to be a gaijin after this Zapping.
In my head, I'm already there.