Saturday, January 14, 2012

Dime Box Heroes: American Pie meets Hammerin' Hank

 2002 Topps American Pie #94 Hank Greenberg

I figured that it's about time I started a section of my blog devoted entirely to the promotion of dime boxes and the hidden gems that can be found in the dime box depths.

That is the overall theme of my blog, after all.

I'm sure that most serious sports card collectors have seen dime boxes at their local card shows. I'm not sure how many actually search through them, though. Whenever I dig through a dime box, there's usually a couple other collectors doing the same. But not many.

Usually the vendors that put out dime boxes have other, more expensive cards for sale. Those are usually the main attraction at their table, not the dime boxes. Those boxes are an afterthought to most of them, just a way to make a few extra bucks to help pay for the rental space.

As a result, there's a lot of uncovered gems that can be had in dime boxes. You have to have a wide variety of collections and literally be looking for pretty much anything. If you only collect a certain player or a certain set, then you might not get as much out of a dime box.

But if your collection is pretty much just random stuff and covers a wide array of cards, then they're perfect for you. It's quite time consuming, but if the rest of your day is free, I urge you to dig through a couple dime boxes the next time you're at a card show if you're up for it.

You won't regret it. There's usually a couple cards of value in every dime box (more on those in a later post, though). 

However, the cards you'll remember most are the cards that hold personal value to you and your collection.

That's exactly what we have here with the '02 American Pie Hank Greenberg.

I'm not sure that many players represent the overall idea of the "American Pie" set better than Hammerin' Hank Greenberg. He was a huge star and one of the most ferocious power hitters in baseball history. What makes it so special is that he was doing it as a Jewish ballplayer during the escalation of World War II. It was no cakewalk, to say the least.

Many people think that Greenberg was a lifelong Detroit Tiger. However, he played his final season in 1947 with the Pirates.

The story of how he came to be a Pirate is very interesting. As a publicity shot, Greenberg had a photo session of him wearing a Yankees uniform near the end of his duty in the war. Nothing was meant by it. It was probably just a photographer's idea.

The Tigers owner took it as a personal offense, thinking Greenberg wanted out of Detroit. As a result of the misunderstanding, Greenberg was sold to the Pirates in January of 1947, where he'd play the final year of his career.

I'd searched and searched and searched for a card of Greenberg as a Pittsburgh Pirate. No luck. No luck at all. I loved finding any card of Hank Greenberg that I didn't already have, but one of him as a Bucco would've been my favorite of his.

At a card show last year, I came across a huge box of loose cards from the 2001 and 2002 American Pie cards, modestly priced at a dime a piece. Any American Pie card is a steal at a dime per. (I love the 2011 American Pie set, but its got nothin' on the '01 and '02 editions.)

By that time, I'd pretty much given up hope of finding a card of Greenberg as a Pirate. Imagine my surprise when I found the card at the top of the post.

Of course, as soon as I'd given up hope, it falls into my hands. An actual card of Mr. Greenberg as a Pirate! 

I must've found at least a hundred cards in that dime box. But none were near as special as the Greenberg.

That's why Hank Greenberg is a "dime box hero".


moremonkeys138 said...

This is why I'm such a fan of the short print legends from the last few years of Topps base sets. I like seeing players in a uniform they may have worn one season, or even less. Sure they aren't dime box cards (although I did find the 2010 Whitey Ford in a dime box) but they do show players in uniforms that you wouldn't normally see. Cobb as an Athletic, Mathewson as a Red, Wagner on the Colonels, Sisler on the Braves, the list goes on. Even if he isn't a superstar like the guys I mentioned, seeing Dave Stieb in a White Sox uniform always makes me look twice. Cliff Lee as a Mariner on a few cards in 2010 are fun too.

Nick said...

I'm 100% with you there. I haven't been able to pick up many of the Topps SP's from the last couple years, but the "Legends of the Game Updates" set from '09 is among my favorite insert sets of the last decade or so for the exact reasons you mentioned.

Mathewson as a Red is probably my favorite of the bunch, considering he only pitched in one game for them.