Here we go again.
Just when I'd thought the whole "blogger box" craze had all but ended around here, someone just had to go and revive it.
Amazingly, this is the sixth different box o' cards I've received during the last two months. That has to be over two thousand different pieces of cardboard.
Unlike the past five "blogger boxes", however, this latest act of unbelievable generosity came courtesy of a reader in the blogosphere, one that has yet to start up a blog of his own.
Apparently, fellow collector and reader Michael has been following and perusing my writings for quite some time. I dug up a few comments of his from some of my February posts of last year.
As I always say in the "fan mail" that people send me, it's nice to know that other people around here enjoy what I write. I never dreamed of this blog becoming anything resembling a "success" in its early stages.
When Michael offered to send me a big batch of cards as "thanks" for this blog, I was blown away.
Still, that was nothing compared to the feeling I got when the box actually arrived on my doorstep. The cardboard I found inside simply swept me off my feet.
Now, if you'll indulge me, I'd like to take you inside this latest box o' cards.
As you'll see, it certainly hit on a bunch of "themes" from my collection.
As you might be able to tell from the photo at the top of this post, Michael's box contained its fair share of minis.
And, as has become an unofficial rule around here, I always start my "blogger box" digs with the minis.
Michael certainly included a diverse group in his generous gift to me. Everything from Goudey to O-Pee-Chee to Cracker Jack was represented.
While these bite-sized pieces of Johnny Cueto and Jason Bay are certainly treasured additions to my binders, my personal favorite mini featured one of the more "obscure" players in my collecting catalog.
Let's see if you remember him.
Does the name Bo Hart ring a bell?
It certainly does for me.
At just 5'11" and 170 pounds, Hart was exactly the type of "underdog" that makes baseball the greatest sport in the world.
From what I remember, his all-out style of play took the Cardinals by storm after his mid-season call-up in 2003. I still have the Bo Hart t-shirt I bought during our family's trip to St. Louis that year.
Sadly, Hart's success was short-lived. The 11 games he'd play with the Cards in '04 proved to be his last in the bigs.
While his cards are fairly sparse these days, I'm still quick to scoop up any new ones I can find.
I haven't yet tracked down the full-sized version of Mr. Hart's short-printed 2004 Cracker Jack card, but I'm ecstatic to finally have the mini in my collection.
It certainly triggered a lot of memories.
You can add Michael's name to the group of "eagle-eyed" readers in the blogosphere.
He managed to hit on quite a few of the "mini-collections" I bring up from time to time in my writings.
This Ben McDonald is a rare "dual-action" combo card, featuring him in both the interview and autograph process.
Multi-tasking at its finest.
The sheer number of uniforms that Matt Stairs wore during his career has tempted me to make him a "binder guy" for quite some time.
As of now, though, he's on the outside looking in.
Even so, this is one of the better "throwback" cards I've seen. Those turn-of-the-century A's jerseys are some of the finest I've witnessed in recent years.
If I ever do decide to induct Mr. Stairs into my binders, this will certainly make for a good starting point.
Here's a nice "combo page" I've assembled for your viewing pleasure.
It contains pieces from both the wonderful world of bat barrels and the lens-tastic world of specs.
Leo Gomez looks a little like my college math teacher in that photo.
While Michael certainly added a great number of pieces to my many "mini-collections", this was far and away my favorite one.
Other than my beloved "pitchers at the plate" collection, these multiple-exposure pieces may well be the best theme I have going in my binders right now.
Thanks to the blogosphere, I've developed a newfound appreciation for photos snapped at Dodger Stadium as well. This is certainly one of the better pieces I've seen in that regard.
I'm sure this was one of the must-have cards during "Nomo-mania" back in the day.
Heck, even 18 years later, it's still a "must-have" for me.
While I'm not a set collector, I've still been prone to mentioning my appreciation for quite a few sets within my writings.
From what I can gather, Michael made note of my "underrated Topps sets" post from a while back.
He included a large stack of 1992 Topps cards in his box, a set that I've always felt was vastly underrated.
The un-intrusive design and magnificent backs have been well noted in other writings, but '92 Topps features a ton of terrific photography upon closer inspection.
I had a tough time crowing a true "centerpiece" for this particular page. Any one of these would've made for a fine selection.
In the end, I had to give Lee Smith the "centerpiece" honors. The "in-motion" Darryl Strawberry is probably the runner-up for me, but that Smith is just so darn cool.
If this doesn't convince you on the greatness of 1992 Topps, I'm not sure what will.
I'm not sure that 1995 Topps ever received its fair share of respect in the hobby.
I personally ranked it as the second most underrated Topps set ever, after '57.
While the photography is certainly superb, the design is what makes '95 Topps such a desired set in my book. I'm a big fan of white borders, and, when done right, I can certainly get on board with the foil-lettering concept.
As far as that goes, 1995 Topps is a prime example of foil done right.
However, I took a slightly different approach in selecting a "centerpiece" for this page.
While I considered the comfortable Sid Bream or trippy "multiple-image" Wayne Kirby for the crown, I eventually went with a part of the "Draft Pick" subset in Terrence Long.
Because Long's career with the Mets consisted of exactly three at-bats in 1999.
Which instantly makes it one of the more unfamiliar uniforms in the history of cardboard.
I probably don't have to tell you how awesome 1993 Upper Deck is.
I've been planning to compose a "Best of Upper Deck" post in my "Covering the Bases" theme for a while.
Spoiler alert...'93 is #1.
Again, that shouldn't come as any surprise.
Putting aside personal "legendary" favorites like Conlon Collection and UD All-Time Heroes aside, '93 UD is probably the greatest set from the overproduction era in my book.
I doubt the hobby has ever seen better photography.
The "centerpiece" of this particular page is one of the oddest, yet greatest, cards I've ever seen.
As you can probably tell, it's also one of my coveted multiple-exposure pieces. However, unlike just about all the others I currently own, I've never heard of the player featured on the front of it.
I'm still trying to figure out why Phil Hiatt was granted such an amazing and arguably iconic piece of cardboard history.
The guy's career consisted of four big-league seasons with the Royals, Tigers, and Dodgers. And those four seasons were spread out between his debut in 1993 to his grand finale in 2001.
Mr. Hiatt, we card collectors bow down to you.
Even if we're not sure who you are.
Quite a few of the cards that Michael sent could be relegated to the "random" realm of things.
After all, these two don't fit into any specific parameters within my collection. However, both did prove to be special additions to my binders.
Although I've never set out to collect Kerry Wood, I've always enjoyed minor league cards of future big league stars.
And, hey, that's the second All-Sport card I've featured in the last week. That has to be some sort of record.
Putting aside last year's dog-centric A&G insert set, I only knew of one other canine card before the Walker arrived on my doorstep. (That other is soon to become a "Dime Box Dozen" need, by the way.)
Apparently, though, the Milk Bone brand released an entire set of cards featuring ballplayers and their pets back in the day.
Now that might not be a bad set to try and complete sometime down the road.
As if everything I've featured so far wasn't enough, Michael managed to do a little damage to my "Dime Box Dozen" needs as well.
This particular '09 OPC piece of Alfonso Soriano has been on there for quite some time. My love for anything and everything related to Wrigley Field should tell you why this is such a coveted card of mine.
While I'll be leaving the base version on the sidebar for now, I'm excited to have the black-bordered parallel of Mr. Soriano in my collection.
I very nearly bought this card off Sportlots a few weeks ago.
In hindsight, I guess it's a good thing I didn't, because Michael included this former "Dime Box Dozen" need in with all the other terrific cardboard he sent my way.
I actually first became aware of this one through Night Owl's "Awesome Night Card" series. Ever since then, I've desperately wanted to add it to my collection.
Something about those fluorescent blue Ranger uniforms under the dark sky just captured my fancy, I guess. Plus, "Mick the Quick" has long been a member of my binder system.
Keep those "Dime Box Dozen" needs coming, folks!
Knocking one of those suckers out always manages to put a smile on my face.
Bobby Grich is indeed my newest "binder inductee".
In fact, my number one goal for the upcoming card show is to find a copy of his treasured 1974 Topps card.
In the meantime, though, I'm certainly ecstatic with the budding stack of '80s Grich cards that Michael included in this latest box o' cards.
Still, none of them could beat this one.
I'd never known that Mr. Grich had a card in the hallowed 2001 Topps Archives release.
This is a reprint of his '71 Topps rookie, which is another piece I'd definitely like to track down one of these days.
It's almost hard to recognize him without the frazzled hair and the mustache.
While we're on the topic of Archives, I might as well tell you about these two.
Every time I think I have all the Archives cards I need, a few new ones manage to present themselves. I know these two cards well, but their Archives reincarnations had eluded me up to this point.
One of my dreams is to own authentic copies of both Drysdale's and Gossage's rookie cards. While the Drysdale one seems a bit farfetched, I've always kept an eye out for a discounted copy of that '73 Gossage.
So far, I haven't had much luck on that front.
But there's always hope.
Wait, why are we talking about reprints?
Let's talk about, you know...
Yes, Michael included a few of those in his amazing box o' cards as well.
And, after all, anything vintage is always appreciated under this roof.
Sure, I know most of you probably don't much care for 1970 Topps. But you have to give them credit for at least one thing.
It was the only Topps set to feature actual, tangible Seattle Pilots jerseys.
While there are Pilots cards in the '69 checklist, they're all of the airbrushed or simply "no cap headshot" variety.
While Diego Segui may be a fairly forgotten name these days, he actually led the American League in ERA with the A's in 1970.
One of my more informal goals has been to acquire every Seattle Pilot card ever made. While I do have a couple pages full at the moment, I'm sure I'm a long ways away from that feat.
Still, every little bit helps.
Mr. Segui here is no exception.
If the 5'11", 170-pound Bo Hart is a "little guy", then I'm not sure what to call Freddie Patek.
The back of his '73 Topps card lists him at 5'4" and 165 pounds.
I've seen this one a few times before, but had never managed to find a copy for myself. Although it features what looks to be a routine groundout, something about that quirky angle manages to separate it from the pack.
Then again, I guess I shouldn't be surprised by that.
After all, "quirky" is what defines '73 Topps.
Most of my Hall of Fame collection is centered around the pre-1990's inductees.
I've never paid a whole lot of attention to more recently enshrined greats such as Eddie Murray and Mike Schmidt.
However, I've begun to change my tune on that topic. Almost involuntarily, I've found myself picking up more and more Murray and Schmidt cards at recent shows.
As it stands, my collections of these two legends are still fairly small. These are now both the oldest and greatest cards of both Murray and Schmidt in my binders, without a doubt.
As has become the norm in my "blogger box" posts, I've tended to save the best for last.
While I absolutely loved everything I've featured so far in this post, nothing came close to topping the grand finale.
I think most of you will agree with me on this one.
This had been a gaping hole in my collection for a while now.
Despite my efforts, I hadn't been able to track down a copy of Carlton Fisk's first solo Topps card. One that features a coveted "rookie cup", at that.
I always thought I'd have to pry a beat-up copy of it from a card show bargain bin. I never thought it'd fall out of an innocent trade package.
Then again, though, maybe I shouldn't be all that surprised with Michael's amazing generosity.
If all the terrific trade packages I've received as a blogger have taught me anything, it's this.
Never know what to expect.
There could be anything inside.
Even a 1973 Topps Carlton Fisk.