Wednesday, April 30, 2014


It's fun to see just how far this blog has come in the past couple years.

The fact that I've been able to keep things going around here without much of a hassle is an accomplishment within itself. (Knock on wood.)

On top of that, I've made a ton of great friends who have been gracious enough to send me stacks and stacks of awesome cardboard during my time here.

And, as if that weren't enough, I'm even having new collecting terms named after me.

According to my good buddy Ethan over at the terrific "Playing With My Cards" blog, labeling something as "Nickworthy" is a thing now.

I can't speak for Ethan or the rest of the blogging community, but I don't think a "Nickworthy" card is easily defined.

It's just one of those things where you know it when you see it.

If that's the case, then Ethan is a "Nickworthy" expert.

As the note says, he recently put together a stack of 1994 Score Rookie/Traded singles together for me.

In case you missed it, Ethan's been breaking a few boxes of (not) junk wax sets on his blog, '94 Score Rookie/Traded being one of them. If I ever find myself with a bit of extra cash, I wouldn't mind plopping down a few bucks on something like this.

I've always found '94 Score Rookie/Traded to be highly "Nickworthy" because it looks nothing like Score's standard release that year. While the Flagship release had a darker feel to it, these are much flashier and epitomize the loud designs that came to dominate the '90s.

I wouldn't be surprised if '95 Fleer was at least partly inspired by this set.

Better yet, '94 Rookie/Traded uses two different designs for veterans and rookies.

Guys like Bo Jackson received a single, full-frame shot on their cards, while John Mabry-esque rookies received different styled nameplates and had two photos crammed onto the front.

I prefer the single-shot veterans.

That said, there are some pretty darn good rookies in this set.

While these aren't official first-year cards of Jim Edmonds or Manny Ramirez, both were just starting to burst onto the scene in 1994.

I wouldn't say I collect either of them, but early cards of future stars like these are definitely "Nickworthy".

As is the case with a lot of mid '90s sets, there's a ton of nice photography sprinkled throughout this checklist.

You better believe goggles like these are "Nickworthy".

As the King of Random, Ethan has a good grip on knowing which cards I'm bound to enjoy.

I don't think I've seen another card where the umpire actually upstages the featured player. I have no idea who that man in blue is, but his emphatic strike three call puts Tony Pena to shame.

Part of me wants to start a "Web Gems" mini-collection one of these days.

Mr. Fernandez would be a perfect nominee.

In the meantime, this set provides plenty of hits to my existing mini-collections.

I've mentioned this before, but I do still categorize faux-throwbacks like the one on Darren Oliver under my "throwback" theme. At least they tried.

Ethan knows I can't turn down a good "play at the plate".

It's the same with "double dips".

I probably own a few hundred of these things, and I haven't tired of them in the slightest. While the simple double play shots are enough for me, fun cameos are icing on the cake. I spy appearances from "Junior" and Ellis Burks on these two.

You just can't beat a "double dip".

They are, and always will be, "Nickworthy".

This, however, was the one card I hoped Ethan would throw into my mix.

He posted it during his initial recap of this set and I was instantly jealous.

There aren't many cards of Rick Sutcliffe as a Cardinal out there. I doubt a lot of fans even know he played for them in the first place.

Sutcliffe spent all of 16 games in St. Louis during his 1994 "sunset" season. I believe this is just the third card I own of him as a Cardinal.

Its "Nickworthy" levels are off the charts.

From what I hear, a lot of cards cause people to think "Hey, I bet Nick would like this one."

That, in essence, is what makes something "Nickworthy". It's the newest addition to the collecting lexicon.

Tell your friends.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Salad tongs and Stadium Club

In case you missed yesterday's post, my 2014 flea market season started with a bang this past Sunday.

Between quarter boxes and Beatles cards, there was certainly a lot to like. But that wasn't even all of it.

During my first trip around the flea market on Sunday, I spotted a guy who had a huge stack of long card-filled boxes on display. Since he didn't have much in the way of individual singles, though, I passed up his table. Vendors like those aren't usually my cup of tea.

Just as I was planning to call it a day, I decided to go back and take a closer look at what the guy had. I'm glad I did.

In what seemed to be a running theme of the day, none of this guy's selection was priced. A quick peek at the fronts of a couple of the boxes saw things such as "1990 Topps" and "1992 Donruss" scrawled on them. You'd have to pay me good money to take those off somebody's hands.

However, a couple of the boxes intrigued me. I asked how much he was asking for each box, a little scared of the answer. Once again, I breathed a huge sigh of relief when he said he'd let them go for five bucks a piece. Better yet, he was willing to cut me a deal if I bought more than one.

After all was said and done, I took home two boxes for a grand total of eight bucks. The first was filled with about 600 cards of 1999 Upper Deck, the infamous "salad tongs" set.

Anything from the late '90s is a definite score for me since I don't own a whole lot from the era. Although all the Cubs and White Sox had been plucked out and there were a fair amount of doubles, I still probably landed about 80 percent of the complete set.

So, to recap this terrific find, I figured I'd feature my five favorite cards from the box.

#5 -- 1999 Upper Deck #193 Wally Joyner

If I ever got around to ranking Upper Deck's complete run, their 1999 release would probably come in somewhere near the middle.

It's not their best effort, but it's definitely not their worst. The overdose of foil and the "salad tongs" design are strange, but this set has enough going for it to at least be respectable.

As usual, UD didn't slack with their photography in '99.

I'm a big fan of this candid "cards with kids" shot of Wally Joyner.

#4 -- 1999 Upper Deck #135 Pat Meares

Initially, I thought this was a shot from the old Metrodome.

Now, I'm not so sure. The uniforms featured here were only worn on the road by the Twins in the late '90s, so I have no idea what stadium that is. I've never been good at that sort of thing.

Either way, though, it's a terrific postgame shot that was definitely one of my favorites from this box.

#3 -- 1999 Upper Deck #444 Scott Spiezio

Now this, my friends, is a great double play shot.

It was around this time that I realized something about 1999 Upper Deck. 

Many of the vertical cards in this set are forgettable. Many of the horizontal pieces, however, are stunning. I found myself stopping and staring at a lot of them during my dig through this box.

I can't help but wonder how much an all-horizontal layout would've helped this set's reputation.

#2 -- 1999 Upper Deck #41 Dennis Martinez

This one doesn't win any points for photography.

It does, however, deserve a ton of respect for being the only true "sunset" card of Dennis Martinez in my collection. It has full career stats on the back and even features the cool "Final Tribute" badge that popped up on a lot of late '90s Upper Deck cards.

On top of that, "El Presidente" only pitched in Atlanta for a single season, which makes it a nice "short term stop" candidate as well.

For a while, I thought it'd hold the top slot in this countdown.

#1 -- 1999 Upper Deck #316 Charles Johnson

That is, until I took a closer look at this one.

On the surface, it seems like your standard "play at the plate" shot. Cool, sure. But nothing we haven't seen before.

It wasn't until the second viewing that I noticed the uniform of the runner sliding into Charles Johnson here.


Since when do the Orioles play Cuban teams?

A fascinating bit of research showed that the O's played two exhibition games against the Cuban National Team in March and May of 1999. 

The Orioles won the first contest in Havana, while Cuba took the second one in Baltimore. America was introduced to a star Cuban pitcher named Jose Contreras during those games.

Though I can't find an official box score of either contest, I'm pretty sure this shot was taken during that second contest at Camden Yards.

I'm always appreciative of any card that leads me to a new facet of baseball history.

Needless to say, it takes its place as one of my new favorite frankenset inductees.

The second of the two boxes I bought was much smaller in nature, but definitely packed the same amount of punch.

For four bucks, I landed a generous lot of 1999 Stadium Club singles. Again, there were a decent amount of doubles and lacked any Cubs or White Sox, but that didn't take away from the fun of it at all.

I probably don't have to tell you about how much I love Stadium Club and its awesome photography by now. Their offerings from the late '90s were the cream of the crop in the hobby, even if most collectors didn't know it at the time.

Let's dive into the top five from Stadium Club, shall we?

#5 -- 1999 Stadium Club #11 Jose Lima

Lima time!

I don't think there has ever been a bad card of the late Jose Lima. From what I've seen, the man had an unmatched passion for the game of baseball. It's a shame we lost him so soon.

He was a pretty good pitcher in his day. To me, though, he'll always be the guy playing air guitar with a bat and a glove on his head.

It's the perfect shot of such a fun-loving man.

#4 -- 1999 Stadium Club #122 John Olerud

John Olerud is probably one of my five favorite guys to collect.

Any opportunity I get to land a new card of his is a pleasure. Before Sunday, I'd never seen the terrific job Stadium Club did with him in '99.

Olerud was a great hitter and one of the more underrated players of the last few decades. He might be best known for wearing a helmet out on the field, the result of a brain aneurysm he suffered in college.

Though I simply knew him as "the guy with the helmet" as a kid, I've come to appreciate John Olerud's entire career over the years.

He's one of the centerpieces of my collection.

#3 -- 1999 Stadium Club #120 Jim Thome

Now this is why I love Stadium Club so much.

Where else would you find something like this?

What I find myself wondering is where the photographer was sitting when this shot was snapped. It's hard to envision a scenario where you'd get this type of an angle down the first base guard rail.

All I know is that Stadium Club sure knew how to hire professional photographers.

#2 -- 1999 Stadium Club #45 Chuck Knoblauch

See what I mean?

Only Stadium Club could create something as great as this.

Though Paul O'Neill is doing his best to bowl him over, Chuck Knoblauch is actually the one who ends up making the terrific over-the-shoulder catch here.

I've never seen so many great fielding shots out of a single checklist before.

#1 -- 1999 Stadium Club #34 Turner Ward

Top honors, however, go to this masterpiece.

Turner Ward looks to have scored on either a wild pitch or a passed ball here, literally leaving poor Russ Ortiz in the dust.

It's one of the more creative "play at the plate" shots I've ever seen.

Believe me, each box had way more than five good cards. It was an absolute blast to dig through such a large number of late '90s cardboard. I don't get many opportunities to do that.

Eight bucks well spent, I think.

Monday, April 28, 2014

The return of the flea market

Anyone who has been reading this blog over the past couple years should know how important the local flea market is to me.

Walking through aisles and aisles of vendors in search of buried treasure is a great way to spend an afternoon. If you have a flea market near you, I'd definitely recommend checking it out.

My local flea market season started late last month, but yesterday was the first time the trifecta of time, money, and acceptable weather seemed to combine.

The only problem was the howling wind. People's items were blowing all over the place. With all that debris flying around, I felt like a guy in one of those old Westerns. Emerging from a cloud of dust in search of dime boxes.

Unfortunately, the regular card vendors who have dominated the last couple flea market seasons weren't there. I'm hoping they're just waiting for the weather to calm down a little more. As you might guess, cards and wind don't mix.

After walking through a few aisles, I was starting to get worried that opening day at the flea market might turn out to be a disappointment. No cardboard in sight.

I finally found a guy in the last couple aisles who had some cards on display.

The only problem was that none of them were priced.

I don't usually like digging through unpriced cardboard. I like to know what I'm getting into when I start digging.

Thankfully, within seconds of me approaching his table, he said...

"Everything in this box is two-for-a-dollar, and everything in that one is four-for-a-dollar."


I started on the quarter cards. It may not have been a dime box, but I was just happy to finally be digging through cards at that point.

The guy's selection was impressive. Every possible facet of the hobby seemed to be represented.

Even presidents.

Oddballs also made a couple cameos.

At a quarter a piece, I was more than happy to give about a half-dozen of these neat MVP oddities a good home.

You want rookies?

You got it!

I know it's sacrilege to scan Dodger and Giant cards next to each other, but I couldn't help it with these two.

Finding a Matt Holliday rookie in a quarter bin was certainly a surprise.

Even so, I doubt I would've even bought it had it not had that awesome "bat barrel" shot.

One thing I liked about this guy's selection was that he had a lot of inserts from the '90s and early 2000's available. The sheer number of different series that were released in that time period is mind-boggling.

On top of that, I wouldn't exactly call a lot of them conventional.

As you might guess with that Ichiro, many have quite a trippy look to them.

Adding to the greatness of this guy's selection was the fact that he had quite a few newer cards on display as well.

I'll be the first to admit that Topps's recent advent of mini-refractors has "gimmick" written all over it. That's why it's been difficult to admit to myself that I actually kind of like them.

I've been a Sonny Gray fan ever since his performance in last year's playoffs. That, and the fact that his name sounds like something out of the 1800's, compelled me to drop a quarter on this beauty.

Darn you mini-refractors for being so cool.

Here's your dosage of shiny for the day.

Topps Chrome has basically become an afterthought for me, but I still enjoy plucking refractors, x-fractors, or any other type of fractors out of discount bins.

I still haven't bought a pack of 2014 Donruss.

I applaud Panini's effort, but this set was a bust. The inserts are okay, but they're not nearly enough to justify paying three bucks on a pack at Target.

This is probably the one area of collecting that would be the hardest to explain to a non-collector. If I dislike these cards so much, then why did I pull so many of them out of this quarter bin?

I've never had a good answer. Player collections trump bad designs, I guess.

If I see an Ichiro card I don't already have, I'm going to buy it.

The design doesn't have much of a say in the matter.

Perhaps the most surprising part of this guy's quarter bin was his selection of Vlads.

For no reason whatsoever, an entire section of his box was filled with the guy. Quarter after quarter after quarter well spent.

This was probably my strangest pickup of the afternoon. It's obviously meant to be some sort of baseball card/ticket mashup.

I have absolutely no idea how I'm going to store a card like this, but I had to have it regardless.

Vlads everywhere!

A lot of these are numbered, which is why I was so shocked to land them for just a quarter a piece.

It was a great way to cap off my quarter bin dig.

That's when I moved on to his 2/$1 box.

I didn't find much, but I was willing to drop fifty cents on Mr. Hegan here.

It's yet another step in my unofficial quest to obtain every single Pilots card ever made.

The guy also had a small box of individually-priced cardboard off to the side.

Again, I didn't come away with a whole lot, but I felt compelled to jump on this Jordan. At only a buck, it was a fair price.

I think this one was actually released as part of a basketball set, as it has the NBA logo on the back. It's a baseball card to me, though.

After all was said and done, I had 84 quarter cards, two fifty-centers, and the dollar MJ in my purchase pile. The guy cut me a bit of a deal and only charged me twenty bucks for the lot.

I thanked him and continued my hunt for buried treasure.

I ended up buying cards from two more dealers last afternoon.

I'll chronicle my finds from one of them in an upcoming post. The other, however, made for one of my better flea market finds ever.

I spotted another guy with cards just a few tables down from the aforementioned quarter boxes. He had a big bin full of random stuff. Most of it contained cards, but I actually pulled a watch out of the thing at one point.

Whether the watch was for sale or whether a fellow collector lost it during their dig wasn't clear.

Again, none of his cards had a price on them. The guy said they were "all different prices" when I asked him. That reply usually worries me. I went about my dig with caution.

About ten minutes later, however, I walked away from his table with a huge smile on my face. Though it's a beautiful card, this Powell wasn't the reason why.

In fact, it was a mere throw-in to the real prize.

Down in the bottom reaches of the bin came a baggie full of '60s Beatles cards.

Most had tape residue and were in generally grim shape. Still, if you know me at all by now, the fact that I could care less about their condition is probably no surprise to you.

There I was holding something a stack of Beatles cards. Cards of the four guys who produced some of the best music in the history of our planet.

There was only one problem.

I didn't know how much they were. I was a little afraid to ask. My mind instantly started imagining what the guy might say.

You seem like a good kid. I could let them go for, say...fifty bucks. That's a good deal, my friend.

I asked anyways.

Then came the reply...

Ten bucks.

Ten bucks for a stack of authentic Beatles cards?


And, like I said, the guy was even nice enough to throw that Boog Powell in with the lot. 

That's how I became the proud new owner of about fifteen new Beatles cards.

Stories like this are why I keep going back to the flea market year after year. The possibility of finding gems like these is simply irresistible.

Go ahead, precious flea market.

Take a bow.

You deserve it.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

A change in direction

I'd like to say that I have life figured out by now.

But I don't. I doubt any 22 year-old does.

These past couple weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind as far as the future goes. I've said in the past that my dream career is to be a teacher. I was planning on majoring in education.

After really sitting down and thinking about it, though, I've started to reconsider. Becoming a teacher isn't out of the question now by any means, but I've recently decided to try and go in a new direction with my school career.

As of right now, I am officially an English major. I've tried to pick up as many books as possible throughout my life, and I've always had a passion for writing. Going further with my English studies just feels right, and making the change has injected a new excitement into my school career.

I'm not sure I would've ever chosen to go down that path had it not been for this very blog. It's become a major part of my life over the past couple years, and I can't imagine myself without it.

Before I started this blog, it seemed like cards were just pieces of cardboard to me. Now, though, I've come to realize that they're so much more. Every card has a story. I just want to thank you, the reader, for all your support and help over these last couple years.

As it happens, a couple longtime friends of the blog recently sent me some great stacks of goodies. The first comes from the ever-generous Mark of the awesome blog "This Way to the Clubhouse...". I've lost count of how many packages we've sent back and forth.

Mark's always been a trading MVP, but this awesome Joe Morgan mini is definitely one of the better gifts he's ever sent me.

The appreciation I have for the blogging community is endless.

I have a great group of friends. But, as I've said in the past, I have yet to meet anyone who collects baseball cards.

Starting this blog has helped me realize that there are a lot of people out there just like me. People who get the same thrill out of collecting as I do.

These people are even willing to put forth the time and effort to hunt down hits for my many wacky mini-collections.

Mark certainly hit a home run with these two "pitchers on the basepaths".

In developing a blogger friendship, you get a good sense of what the other person likes after a while.

I think Mark and I are at that point. While this Durham doesn't fit snugly into any of my mini-collections, I was ecstatic to see it fall out of this mailer.

Coming from the criminally underrated 1997 Upper Deck, this fantastic piece features a shot of something you don't often see on cardboard. The second-base pickoff.

It doesn't work often, but it sure is exciting when it does.

Mark knows of my Cubbie fandom by now.

Though I wouldn't say I'm a team collector, a lot of people seem to send me Cubs cardboard. I'm completely okay with that.

While I love my entire collection, I have a special bond with my Cubs binders. Though Mark Prior didn't pan out over the long haul, I get a special twinkle in my eye when ever I see cards of his.

I'm still not quite sure why.

Though it may be tough to tell from the scan, this Buckner is one of those oversized '80s Donruss inserts.

From what he told me, Mark picked this one up for nothing. And, no, I don't mean that in the sense that he got a good price on it.

It literally cost him nothing.

A guy at his local card show had a stack of these oversized cards in a pile off to the side of his table with a big "FREE" sign next to them. I'm glad Mark scooped this one up for me.

After all, you can never turn down free cardboard.

That's one of the first lessons in Collecting 101.

This was the biggest surprise of Mark's batch.

Cards from sets like Topps Pristine don't often find their way into my collection. I've always been disappointed by that. They're absolute beauties, and this particular offering was obviously inspired by the '65 Topps design.

Imagine my excitement when this stunning piece of "Mr. Cub" fell into my hands. I'm sure Mark had a feeling I'd like this one. Boy, was he right.

It's an honor to have people like him in this community.

Another one of my longtime blogger buddies is Douglas of the awesome blog "Sportscards from the Dollar Store".

Since he lives in Canada, he's allowed me to keep in touch with baseball fans north of the border.

That wide range of connections is another thing I love about the blogosphere.

I read Douglas's blog any chance I get. I distinctly remember him posting this wild David Justice insert not too long ago. Though I never specifically asked for it, I did hint that I wouldn't mind having it in my collection.

Thankfully, Douglas picked up on that. He added it to another wonderful assortment of cards he sent my way.

As many collectors know, Pacific is the king of crazy inserts. This one is supposed to look like some sort of stamp. I'll admit, the many perforations made it hell to slip into a nine-pocket page.

But I still love it nonetheless.

Douglas also slipped a few of my 2013 needs into this envelope.

He sent over a little more Cubbie love with the emerald Samardzija.

It took me about four years, but I finally know how to spell his last name by heart.

The only time I show hockey cards on this blog is when Douglas sends some my way.

In each of the many envelopes he's sent me, he's made it a point to track down a few hockey takes on my many mini-collections.

After all, the Stanley Cup may be the most iconic award in all of sports. And, despite what you may think, "multi-sport heroes" can also be found on the ice.

Hockey and football sure do seem like an odd mix.

Maybe some sort of pigskin-on-ice sport is on the horizon.

Douglas even managed to find a "zero-year" hockey card.

Plus, from what he told me, this particular one has a pretty fascinating story behind it.

Over the last year or so, Douglas has cemented himself as the "Dime Box Dozen" king.

I've lost count of how many of them he's found at this point, but it's quite a few. My collection will forever be indebted to him.

Mr. Garner here had one of the shorter "Dime Box Dozen" tenures in history. He was only up there for a couple days before Douglas hunted him down.

Besides his 1988 Topps issue, this is the only other card I know of that features Phil Garner as a Dodger. He played with them for 70 games in 1987.

I've never seen a card that features Garner's 15-game stint with the '88 Giants, which means that this takes its place as a "sunset" piece in my collection.

Not a bad way to go out, I'd say.

As if that weren't enough, Douglas bumped off my longest tenured "Dime Box Dozen" need with this one.

Mr. Soriano has been on the sidebar for at least six months or so. I fell in love with this beautiful Wrigley Field shot at first sight.

It's great to finally have it in my arms.

It wouldn't have been possible without the efforts of people like Douglas.

While I may not have life figured out by now, at least I know that I'll always have my treasured card collection. And this blog.

That'll never change.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Come one, come all

I feel like card companies have rewritten the rules on checklists recently.

In the past, there was a certain understanding that the design of every set would be distinct from one another. Though they were issued just a year apart, there's no confusing '74 and '75 Topps.

More so than ever before, a lot of today's sets are virtually indistinguishable. I know I still have problems placing each respective year of Gypsy Queen.

At one point, I feel that there was the possibility that virtually any player could pop up in a checklist. Everyone from stars like Mariano Rivera to backup catchers like Chris Widger were fair game.

Again, not so much these days. Perhaps my biggest problem with today's Topps is the fact that the same batch of players seem to appear in every single set. What we really need is something like Topps Total, but that's another topic for another day. (And something I've mentioned countless times in the past.)

At the very least, at least there's the guarantee that checklists will feature a decent amount of players. Sure, guys like Yasiel Puig and Miguel Cabrera may receive multiple cards in a set. Even with that, I'd guess there were about 320 different players in this year's 330-card Series 1 checklist.

I mean, no set can revolve around just one guy.


I guess Pacific didn't get the memo.

They created not one, but two all-Nolan Ryan sets in the early '90s. Each checklist featured 110 cards of the "Ryan Express", which comes out to a grand total of 220 cards of one guy.

That's insane.

Not surprisingly, these are easy to find in dime boxes. I seem to come home with at least a couple after every show.

As I said before, I'm all about player variety. I want to see as many different guys featured as possible. I really shouldn't like sets like this.

In reality, though...

...I do.

That Nolan Ryan set features a ton of awesome shots that you wouldn't see in a normal checklist. It's also helped boost my "Ryan Express" collection to well above the 100-card mark.

And Pacific didn't even stop there.

In 1992, they pushed yet another one-player set. This time, the golden boy was Tom Seaver. All 110 cards devoted exclusively to "Tom Terrific".

Yes, I like these as well.

Don't ask me why.

As far as these types of checklists go, we can thank Fleer for the inspiration.

Or you can blame them, depending on which side you want to take.

Though they strived to be an upstart card company back in the late '50s, Fleer had trouble luring any players away from Topps. Their one big coup, however, was landing Ted Williams.

And they weren't scared to let the collector know it.

In 1959, Fleer released an 80-card set exclusive to the "Splendid Splinter". Though the company would obviously go on to achieve greater fame in the '80s and beyond, I'm not sure many collectors know about their Williams-based beginnings.

Some of them, as shown above, are quite beautiful. Others I've seen, not so much.

At the very least, Fleer understood that a one-player set wasn't entirely out of the realm of possibility.

I have a suspicion that at least one brand was inspired by the efforts of Pacific.

In 1992, Conlon released a 165-card set entirely dedicated to Babe Ruth. I guess if there was one guy worthy of something like this, it's the "Great Bambino".

Like most other one-player sets, I've warmed up to this one over the years. Again, there are a decent amount of forgettable shots.

Others, however, are tremendous. I doubt you'd find a shot of Ruth and former president Warren Harding anywhere else in my collection.

Oh, and this very same shot just so happened to pop up in my history textbook from this semester.

I can't say that about any other cards I own.

The tactic of single-player sets pretty much died down after the early '90s.

Leaf, however, recently tried to revive it with a 50-card set revolving around Pete Rose. Because Leaf is currently unlicensed, they're free to print anything of "Charlie Hustle", something that Topps can't do.

Still, if I were going to hate on a set, this would be the one. All one guy and no logos? I want to say a set like this shouldn't exist, but...

It's actually not bad.

I've found quite a few goldmines from it during my dime box digs. I'm especially fond of this one featuring a shot of a young Pete Rose, Jr., who'd get his own cup of coffee in the bigs many years later.

Though he did leave a black mark on the game of baseball, I'll admit that it's nice to see Pete Rose cards again.

I'm by no means suggesting that every set should be devoted to a single guy. I'd probably stop collecting if that ever happened.

All I'm saying is that these types of releases aren't too bad every once in a while. Even though I should hate them, I have a begrudging respect for brands that could pull off these one-player sets.

I honestly can't understand why I like them, but I do.

It's one of the bigger mysteries in my card collecting universe.