Wednesday, January 30, 2019

The (Second) Dime Box Frankenset, Page 67: Numbers 595-603

Frankenset Page #55 WINNER -- 1991 Upper Deck #492 Geno Petralli (11 votes)

Last week's page was one of those groups where I had absolutely no clue who was gonna win.

The running went neck-and-neck right up until the end, with Geno Petralli and his 11 votes (of 35 total) pulling out a narrow win over Vada Pinson (9 votes) and Steve Nicosia (8 votes). I've studied this page for a week now and I'm still not sure who I'd personally vote for, but Geno here is definitely a classic, and he joins a small group of players who've won pages in both of my frankensets.

It's the rare case where the hobby guides my fandom, rather than vice versa: I doubt I would've ever heard of Geno Petralli had it not been for his great baseball cards.

The Random Number Generator spit out #67, so we'll be taking a look at that high-numbered page (#s 595-603) in the binder this week.

Let's meet the nominees.

1992 Upper Deck #595 Brian Holman

I don't officially collect mound meeting shots, but they make for fun (though slightly claustrophobic) cards. 

1994 Score #596 Steve Scarsone

You'd be kicked out of the game for sliding like that these days. 

1988 Score #597 Jose Lind

Double dip + ivy + Ryno cameo = one fantastic baseball card. 

1993 Upper Deck #598 Rick Wilkins

Lunging for naught. 

1976 SSPC #599 Wayne Simpson

Here comes a trio of minor leaguers who popped up in the 1976 SSPC checklist for some reason -- firstly Wayne Simpson, who'd be out of the bigs just a year after this card was issued.

1976 SSPC #600 Erskine Thomason

Perhaps the most curious inclusion in the '76 SSPC checklist (and, ironically, one of its few hero numbers) is Erskine Thomason, whose major league career consisted of exactly one game with the 1974 Phillies. 

1976 SSPC #601 Ike Hampton

Though Ike Hampton isn't a household name (he hung around as a backup infielder with the Angels until 1979), something about this card strikes me as quintessentially '70s.

1991 Upper Deck #602 Bruce Hurst

Back to the big-leaguers with this autograph shot -- and one of the few I've seen to feature the coveted box of baseballs itself. 

1969 Topps #603 Joe Keough

Joe Keough and his trusty lumber make this a rare four-decade frankenset page.

That just about does it for this week's group. The polls are now on the sidebar.

Happy voting!

Monday, January 28, 2019

I now own the greatest minor league card ever

You know me: I'm a longer-post type of blogger, but today I honestly don't have much more to say other than what's already in the title of this post.

Thanks to my Dad -- who, bless him, kept an eye on my "Keep Dreaming" lists while looking for Christmas gifts this past holiday season -- I now own the greatest minor league card ever.

That is all.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Local man finds LCS on way home from work

For no apparent reason, I decided to take a different route home from work a few weeks ago, and on the way back I discovered a card shop.

The LCS itself wasn't a complete surprise: I'd heard a couple regular customers discussing at the flea market this past summer. But I didn't realize it was so close to where I worked -- I nearly crashed my car into a pole after seeing it sandwiched between the bland exteriors of a CVS and a hardware store.

Nor, of course, could I have known that it'd have something I've never, ever seen at a local card shop: a 15/$1 box!

Indeed, one of the first things I saw upon entering the shop was the very 15/$1 box you see at the top of this post.

Though it included a mix of all sports, the vast majority of it was baseball. A good amount of the stuff in there was your expected late '80s/early '90s fare, but it was far from the Topps and UD stuff I've seen hundreds of times. There was a fair amount of semi-major brand cardboard (Triple Play, Score, etc.) to keep things interesting, and my collection has enough gaps from that era to make those boxes a whole lot of fun.

So there I was in heaven barely thirty seconds in the place.

And did I mention the oddballs?

Amidst the small handful of Conlons in those 15/$1 box came this odd Lefty O'Doul, which has the exact same front as his '92 Conlon card but features an ad for a Frisco restaurant named in his honor on the back.

Also: box bottoms!

With a little digging, I found two uncut '87 Topps panels sitting at the bottom of the 15/$1 box (Henderson/Rice on one, Sutton/Winfield on the other) -- and I got to cut them out!

But for my money, this was the biggest of the 15/$1 surprises: a Bo Jackson rookie!

I've actually been searching for a relatively cheap copy of this very card for a while -- it's one of the last semi-big Bo cards I needed, and one that went for a pretty penny back in the day, from what I've heard.

Me, I'll take it for six cents, thank you very much.

Now, 15/$1 boxes aside, there's one small drawback to this store: basically everything for sale is behind the counter, which means I had to ask the shop owner every time I wanted to see something.

Of course, I like to have stuff out in front of me to dig through at my will. But overall the shop owner was a great guy (we discussed his massive White Sox collection) and didn't make me feel like I was inconveniencing him by asking for the many boxes I ended up looking through. And talk about inventory: they had 28 different boxes labeled MISC. ODDBALL behind the counter. Twenty-eight!

I only got through maybe a half-dozen of the oddball boxes, and the prices were quite reasonable: these four set me back all of 50 cents a piece.

By luck, one of the boxes I picked had Hostess inside, and I tracked down a longtime need of mine with that Lenny Randle (also 50 cents!).

Beckett doesn't list the Randle -- one of his few Met cards -- as a short-print or anything of that nature, but I'm a bit skeptical: I've never seen one in-hand before this LCS trip and they've rarely popped up on the internet.

By the time I'd dug through that 15/$1 box and sampled the shop's copious amount of oddballs, it was just about closing time, so I said my goodbyes...

...and went back the very next week, because can you blame me?

I didn't get a picture of the shop, but I'll just say their inventory is way larger than anything I've ever seen anywhere, card shop or otherwise. I don't think I'd be exaggerating too much by saying they have close to a million cards lining the wall from just about any set you can think of. This included three large boxes of Pacific, probably the one brand I have the most trouble finding these days. Naturally, I decided to start with Pacific and go from there.

Within minutes, I'd found the hallowed '93 Pacific Dale Murphy, the only card of him as a Rockie I still needed (as far as I know) and one that'd been sitting on my Dime Box Dozen list for over two years(!).

I'm having a difficult time describing how awesome it was digging through three long boxes of Nothing But Pacific: I mean, I get excited when I find one random Pacific card in a dime box.

While Dale Murphy as a Rockie stands above all, I scoped out a bunch of other splendid Short Term Stops I needed, like Ozzie Guillen as a Brave(?!) and Shawon Dunston as a Cardinal(?!?!?!?!?!).

Pacific mini-collection hits that fell into the black hole of the late '90s/early-aughts.

It's sometimes a pain to collect dudes who played around the millennium era since many of their cards seem forever unattainable.

Thankfully, I don't have to worry about these four anymore.

Somehow, after that Pacific whirl, I still had enough energy to dig through more boxes(!), so I sampled a few boxes I spotted behind the counter labeled MISC. CUBS.

I'd like to note one thing about this LCS which isn't exactly a common feature of most LCSes: the prices are fair. I've often overpaid for cards from shops in the past, thinking: oh, those are just card shop prices. But the price tags at this place were just plain fair, LCS or otherwise.

The Pacifics averaged out to about a quarter per, and these tough Cubs oddities were mere 50-centers, which good luck finding '70s TCMA oddballs like that Lazzeri and Bresnahan at prices like that.

These oddballs of more modern-day dudes were all of a quarter a pop, and that includes my very first Topps TV single with the Zimmer there.

But as if the aforementioned Dale Murphy wasn't enough, I nabbed another white whale of mine during my return trip to the shop with this '83 Thorn Apple Valley Joe Carter.

Like the Murphy, it's another bigtime Short Term Stop: Carter played in all of 23 games with the '83 Cubs before being dealt to Cleveland. And as far as I can tell, this -- a stadium giveaway, I believe -- is the only card apart from Carter's 1984 Donruss rookie to feature him as a Cub (and not to mention this one has a far superior ivy shot!).

This isn't something you see in the wild too often -- most of the sets are hoarded by collectors since it also features a rookie card of some dude named Ryne Sandberg. But even though the five dollars I spent on the Carter skyrocketed over the price of anything else I bought from the LCS that evening, you better believe it was worth it.

To think that two longtime needs of mine were sitting at a card shop mere minutes away all this time is both glorious and painful -- although now I'm worried I might start dropping entire paychecks at this place.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

The (Second) Dime Box Frankenset, Page 55: Numbers 487-495

Frankenset Page #28 WINNER -- 1983 Fleer #249 Aurelio Rodriguez (13 votes)

I said last week that this card makes me happy, so seeing it win the page makes me just ecstatic.

Aurelio Rodriguez (yes, the same Aurelio Rodriguez of '69 Topps bat-boy infamy) jumped out to an early lead and never looked back, taking 13 of the 38 total tallies to become last week's frankenset king. No one else received more than seven votes in the rout.

I try not to root for certain cards to win, but I was sure pulling for Rodriguez -- good to see the blogosphere didn't let me down.

The Almighty Random Number Generator spit out #55, so we'll be voting on that frankenset page (#s 487-495) this week.

So if you're not too exhausted from all the Hall of Fame debate/arguments/insanity you've endured over the last month or so, I invite you to select your favorite card from the newest crop of nine here tonight.

1994 Topps #487 Mike Benjamin

A former frankenset champion turning two. 

1982 Fleer #488 Steve Nicosia

From the official pose to the far-looking eyes, everything about this photo suggests grave seriousness...everything except the bubble, of course. 

1982 Topps #489 Rick Dempsey

Can't imagine there's too many cards of catchers bunting. 

1974 Topps #490 Vada Pinson

An elegant swing and a miss (note the ball in the catcher's mitt). 

1993 Stadium Club #491 Brian Hunter

Tread lightly and carry a Big Stick™.

1991 Upper Deck #492 Geno Petralli

Geno Petralli, an obscure player who seemed to get great baseball cards.

1990 Upper Deck #493 Randy Bush

A little batting cage action to lighten up your day. 

1997 Ultra #494 Mark Thompson

Pitcher at the plate! 

1983 Fleer #495 Leon Durham

More from the batting cage, including what I'm pretty sure is a Bill Buckner cameo in the background.

That's it for this week's page -- the polls are now on the sidebar.

Happy voting!

Thursday, January 17, 2019

The lifespan of a blogger

When I think of my blogging life, I often recall the evolution map that was in every science textbook I had during my grammar school years.

You know the one: the crawling chimp growing and growing into a bipedal human over the course of millions of years (perhaps not the greatest analogy, but I think you get the gist). Almost all of us, I would imagine, started out as anonymous blog readers at one point. I sure did: I'd pinpoint my beginnings as a blogger right around the summer of 2010. I read for a long time without ever commenting or otherwise making my presence known in any way, and it'd be about a year before I made the crazy decision to launch a blog of my own.

Thankfully, some readers take a little more initiative in their blog prowls, like Chris B. who turned out to be my Secret Santa thanks to the festivities held by Jon this year.

I'm (obviously) a bit late in posting Chris's Secret Santa goodies, but that's no knock against them -- it provided a pleasant mix of a lot of things I collect.

I'm still a bit baffled by this National Treasure coin of new binder inductee Khris Davis: I have no recollection of this brand and they're among the thickest cards I've ever handled, though I'm definitely partial to the gold-etched 'fro on the front.

Me, I can't imagine my life without a blog of my own -- but I do often wonder about the mindsets of people like Chris who appear simply content to read and observe us bloggers from afar.

And I stress observing, because readers do it well: these two Cubs were much appreciated, though I'd suggest not looking at that Rizzo for too long because it might make your computer overheat and spontaneously combust.

More various set needs from Chris, which are excellent since so few Christmas gifts allow me to cross off numbers on my want lists.

Over time, at least in my case, reading dissolves into the weird urge to start a blog of one's own -- and then you have people like Gavin of "Baseball Card Breakdown" fame who have been going strong for years now.

I can't tell you what the straw that broke the camel's back was in terms of the moment I decided to create my blog. It wasn't some grand revelation. I suppose I was just sitting around reading one night and thought: Hey, I have some stuff I'd like to say about my baseball cards. I had a blog set up about an hour later, and a first post not long after that.

And thus I took the next step on the evolution map, going from reader to blogger.

Gavin has pretty much been the Custom King of the Blogs from the moment he started his own blog, which I think was evident in the PWE I recently received from him.

As much as I enjoy the A&G Darvish insert above, these two customs blow it out of the water -- especially that Beltre which depicts possibly the most glorious ejection in baseball history.

Gavin also filled in some of the gaps left in last year's Sandlot Archives inserts with these excellent customs, including two different variations of The Great Bambino, The Colossus of Clout, The King of Crash, all those other silly names.

But Gavin saved the big wallop for last: a real Calbee Sadaharu Oh card!

This looks to be from the same set as the Oh I received from Dad a few Christmases ago, and it's nice to have one that's not graded (and not to mention one that's a dual mini-collection hit!). I thought it might've been a custom at first because never in my wildest dreams did I imagine anyone would ever send me something like this.

I still don't quite believe it -- but then again so much of my blogging life seems like a fantasy sometimes.

And as luck would have it, I received another custom-filled PWE from Gavin just yesterday, which arrived just in time for me to sneak it into this post!

Among the goods were these two brilliant cardboard fantasies -- a minor league Satch and a card of Willie McCovey's brief and heretofore undocumented stint with the A's at the tail end of the '76 season.

Gavin also whipped up a couple more movie-themed customs, including one of Art LaFleur's other major baseball film role as Chick Gandil in Field of Dreams, which (unpopular opinion alert) I actually don't think is that great of a movie.

And yes, Gavin filled yet another gap left in Topps's Sandlot inserts by featuring Older Benny (played by Pablo Vitar, the real-life older brother of Mike Vitar, who played Benny) on the '72 design, but I have to say...

...I dig the back a bit more than the front because Gavin came up with a complete bio and "stats" for Benny the Jet(!), who looks to be a potential MVP candidate there with the Dodgers.

I could say so much more, but for now, I say this: these are the types of things that make me so glad I decided to become a blogger on that fateful night seven long years ago.

Then comes a somewhat unfortunate but sometimes necessary period of the life of a blogger -- the exodus.

I've seen more blogs come and go than I can count during my years here. Some departures have pained me more than others, but perhaps none more so than the extended break (as I choose to view it) of Mark's "This Way to the Clubhouse..." blog. I myself stepped away from the blogs a few years ago, and even though I wasn't too happy with the decision, I can honestly say that it was probably best for the long-term health of my blogging life.

I'm hoping it's the same for Mark, but in the meantime, it's good to know that he's still dropping surprise PWEs on me, especially ones packed with mini-collection hits.

Mark and I have been trading for a long time, and I've long noticed his uncanny ability to find new Darryl Kile cards for my collection.

That minor league Kile comes from 1989 and predates my next oldest Kile card by a whole two years -- but let's not ignore that glorious Senior League Madlock by any means, though.

Blue parallels seem to work especially well for Cubs cards, and I don't think I have to tell you why.

In the grand scheme of things, I guess my blogging lifespan hasn't been as linear as that standard evolution map. I've gone from reader to blogger to ghost to reader (again) to blogger (again) during my years here.

But when I look back on those formative years of blogging, and all the transitions within, I see nothing but happiness.