Tuesday, July 30, 2019

The (Second) Dime Box Frankenset, Page 14: Numbers 118-126

Frankenset Page #63 WINNER -- 1993 Topps #565 Jerald Clark (10 votes)

Last week is a good example of why the most important part of this frankenset is you voting on the cards rather than me just talking about them.

My favorite nominee from this page is the John Grubb, and I thought he'd win easily. I pegged Jerald Clark for maybe a third- or fourth-place finish. Lo and behold, Clark took the crown, and it wasn't particularly close. He led pretty much all week, earning 10 of the 35 total votes for the easy victory (Grubb finished second with seven).

Now, thanks to all of you, I'm left to realize that there's a whole lot of beauty on this card than I initially saw -- and, yes, it sure did deserve to win last week.

Thankfully, we're back to a completed page this week -- the Random Number Generator came up with #14, so we'll be looking at that page (#s 118-126) tonight.

Let's meet the hopefuls.

1998 Fleer Tradition #118 Rico Brogna

Throwing it back to the Negro League's Philadelphia Stars franchise.

1998 Topps #119 Orlando Merced

That one ain't coming back. 

2019 Topps Opening Day #120 Dee Gordon

One of this year's more memorable cards, I think. 

1993 Upper Deck #121 Hal Morris

The leap is great, but the fan reactions are better. 

1994 Upper Deck #122 Jose Vizcaino

Proof that even my least favorite sets can still produce wonderful cards. 

1991 Fleer Update #U123 Tony Fernandez

Turning two at Wrigley. 

2009 Topps #124 Reed Johnson

At the wall at Wrigley. 

2017 Stadium Club #125 Randal Grichuk

Okay, so maybe I do have a slight bias towards Wrigley Field cards. 

1993 Upper Deck #126 Robby Thompson

We began with a throwback, and it ends with a throwback.

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

Happy voting!

Friday, July 26, 2019

A&G goes to high school

It's hard to believe Allen & Ginter has been around for 14 years now -- it's old enough to be a high school freshman.

At the risk of sounding like that relative we all have, I remember when A&G was just a baby, way back in 2006, right when I was starting to re-enter the baseball card universe. Since then, it's gone through some highs and lows, some successes and black spots, and now it's all grown up. In a lot of ways, I feel like I grew up with it.

A&G isn't the stalwart it once was for me -- it'll probably never compete for Set of the Year honors anymore -- but I still get the warm fuzzies when I see it on the shelf, and I'm always, always good for a few packs of it, like the ones Dad surprised me with this past weekend.

Value Pack:

#31 Jeff Bagwell

First came one of those 14-card value pack things -- while there isn't a ton of fluctuation in the respective A&G designs, I feel like this one is a little more retro than usual, which I like.

And if the fact that A&G is now old enough to be in high school makes me feel old, I must say that seeing guys I grew up watching, like Jeff Bagwell, pop up as "legends" in modern sets makes me feel even older, and I'd prefer Topps not do that, please.

#131 Juan Gonzalez


#179 Burton Rocks (sports agent)
#12 Blake Treinen
#354 Rowdy Tellez

#NTTZ-6 Panda Cub, "New to the Zoo" insert

I don't chase all of A&G's inserts, but I always like seeing what new subjects Topps conjures up with each passing year.

Now drown in the cuteness of this Panda Cub.

#CC-22 Shih Tzu, "Collectible Canines" insert

I was brought up in a home of animal lovers, so I'll probably be chasing these.

#IE-12 King Arthur's Sword, "Incredible Equipment" insert

The fact that a card of King Arthur's Sword fell out of a pack filled with past and present baseball stars pretty much sums up all that is great and unique about A&G.

#GG-17 Derek Jeter, "Ginter Greats" insert

After cards of Panda Cubs and mythological swords, it seems almost droll to show anything of Derek Jeter, who seems to have about 1,483 cards in every set these days.

#277 Frank Robinson

Just a darn fine baseball card here.

#51 Paul Molitor
#219 Yuli Gurriel

#152 Augie Carton (brewer/podcaster)

Maybe I've just been more attuned to it recently for whatever reason, but the hate for the non-baseball seems to be turned to 11 this year.

My reply to that is pretty simple. Don't like it? Fine. There are absolutely no shortages of retro-style sets to choose from these days. Go collect Gypsy Queen. Or Archives. Or Heritage. Or...you get the point. I don't understand the vitriol, especially because it's not like this is anything new -- did I mention A&G turns 14 this year?

I will say, however, that the non-baseball subjects themselves have devolved to mostly crap in recent years. This Augie Carton fellow is apparently a craft beer brewer and a podcaster, which good luck finding a more 2019 job description than that. I have absolutely no interest in this, or any of the other entrepreneurs or poker players or whoever. I did have interest in the Einstein card from years past, and the Pluto and Revolving Door. And I would have interest in other more interesting historical non-baseball subjects -- off the top of my head, how cool would a Groucho Marx card be? or a Sylvia Plath?

History is filled with an infinitude of people more interesting than podcasters, Topps.

#239 Starling Marte

Rack pack -- Gold pack:

#182 Pete Alonso, gold mini
#22 Jose Ramirez, gold mini
#380 Nomar Garciaparra, gold mini

Next from Dad came one of those three-pack thingies with the pack of special gold minis inside -- I pulled the Pete Alonso, which means I can go ahead and retire now, right?

Pack 1:

#202 Luke Voit
#186 Wade Boggs

Tobacco-style designs suit Wade Boggs well.

#381 Scott Kingery

#10 Mike Trout, mini

I seem to have awfully good luck pulling Trout cards, and I'm not complaining one bit.

#GG-38 Babe Ruth, "Ginter Greats" insert

Seeing Babe Ruth fall out of a pack of baseball cards is always a watershed event.

#269 Scooter Gennett

Pack 2:

#8 Reggie Jackson

I love when Topps decides to feature legends in less-than-familiar uniforms, like this treasured image of Reggie Jackson as an Angel -- because god knows he has enough A's and Yankees cards out there.

#108 Charlie Blackmon
#258 Daniel Murphy
#210 Framber Valdez, mini

#BSS-27 Blake Snell, "Baseball Star Signs" insert

I have little interest in astrology, but I must admit these are pretty darn cool.

#206 Corbin Burnes

Pack 3:

#198 David Bote


#165 John Cynn (poker player)
#NTTZ-4 Rhino Calf, "New to the Zoo" insert

#GG-35 Brooks Robinson, "Ginter Greats" insert

I don't have much left to say about these other than the fact that can one really have enough Brooks Robinson cards?

#7 Albert Pujols

#213 Egg (instagram photo)

As fate would have it, the last card was easily my favorite -- an...egg?

The back tells me that this isn't just a random card of an egg. Apparently a picture of an egg got 30 million likes on instagram last year, which was news to me since I don't do instagram. But even so: this is a baseball card...of an egg. Just an egg. And it's awesome.

It's the kind of card that reminds me of how thankful I am that A&G is still here, all these years later.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

The (Second) Dime Box Frankenset, Page 63: Numbers 559-567

Frankenset Page #43 WINNER -- 1973 Topps #386 Don Money (11 votes)

If I don't see a surefire favorite on a given page, I usually bank on vintage (if any) to win.

My theory proved right last week: Don Money's awful airbrush job (which makes him look oddly futuristic to me) comfortably ran the table, taking 11 of the 35 total votes for the victory. Like the week prior, all nine cards received at least one vote, which makes me happy because it means that something on all of them spoke to someone -- that's basically my job as a frankenset curator.

But Don Money spoke to the most of you out there, so into the Gallery of Frankenset Champions he goes.

The Random Number Generator spit out #63 this week, a high-numbered page (#s 559-567) I sadly have yet to complete.

I haven't secured a card for the #560 slot as of this writing, so please kindly try to ignore that garish empty pocket as we take a look at the other eight deserving nominees here tonight.

2009 Topps #559 Esteban German

I love all the neon and numbers and asterisks on that scoreboard. 

 1996 Fleer #561 Willie Blair

Don't be fooled by pitcher Willie Blair's attempt to look like a real, actual hitter -- his career batting average was .072.

1989 Upper Deck #562 Carney Lansford

Contrary to popular belief, there are other cards in '89 UD besides the hallowed Griffey -- many of which are quite good, actually. 

1991 Upper Deck #563 Junior Felix

The comical boot in the rump on the flipside is the only reason this one received frankenset consideration, but I still can't bring myself to display cards backside-first in my binders.

2014 Topps #564 Alejandro De Aza


1993 Topps #565 Jerald Clark

I've never been to Denver, but I hear it's a beautiful place. 

1979 Topps #566 Nino Espinosa

Perhaps Nino Espinoza's 'fro deserves to be ranked in contention with the Oscar Gambles and Jose Cardenals of the baseball universe.

1983 Fleer #567 John Grubb

I don't know what Ranger Aid is (was?), but this card is a fine advertisement for it.

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

Happy voting!

Friday, July 19, 2019

Right in front of my face

One of the many things I truly appreciate about this hobby is that no matter how long you've been collecting or how many cards you have, there'll always, always be something new to discover.

A fine example came from a recent trade I swung with Bo of the excellent "Baseball Cards Come to Life!" blog, a swap that saw Bo send along this '80 Topps Jim Palmer...which immediately went into my extras box because I've owned a copy of it since my youth. But just by chance, I happened to give it a second glance before sending it to the neverland of dupes. And then I noticed something: HEY, that's a microphone! Jim Palmer's being interviewed! I COLLECT GUYS BEING INTERVIEWED!

And that's how I learned something new about a card I'd owned for darn near two decades now -- a mini-collection hit I never knew I had to begin with.

I don't know what I enjoy more -- discovering new things about cards I've had for years, or discovering just plain great cards I never knew about in the first place.

Either way, it's a whole lot of fun, and if the Palmer and Guerrero are any indication (the latter of which I somehow hadn't seen before this package), maybe I'm not as familiar with 1980 Topps as I thought I was.

This trade was born out of the fact that Bo had a copy of that '95 Collector's Choice Andy Ashby, a card that'd been bugging the hell out of me since I'd had the silver signature parallel of it in my frankenset (pitcher at the plate!) without the standard base version.

Bo took care of that and added an extra cherry on top with that nifty Rolen from '98 Score -- another set I (wrongly) thought I'd long since mined all the goodies from.

As I think many of you know, the discoveries are endless when you trade with Bo.

Deciding to collect a guy relatively late in his career can be somewhat stressful since you end up missing and/or not caring about a whole lot of cards issued of said player in years past.

As was the case with this Pat Neshek from Bo -- a former Dime Box Dozen need -- that took me twelve whole years to secure since I wasn't collecting him back in 2007.

I was also lucky enough to partake in a rare in-person trade with Jeff of the dormant (but hopefully not defunct!) "2x3 Heroes" blog at a card show we both attended earlier this year.

The Hornsby is just plain spectacular (I still miss Panini Cooperstown), and the Burkett, like the aforementioned Ashby, was a card I'd had a parallel of in the frankenset WITHOUT THE GOSH DARN BASE CARD (can you tell how annoyed that makes me?).

A couple new player collection hits from Jeff, including Eck as a Cardinal which never quite looks right to me for some reason.

It floors me when a current card takes me by surprise since, between the blogs and Twitter and what have you, I'm privy to literally hundreds of people opening new product and showing that product on the net.

But despite all that -- and despite all the 2018 Archives I myself purchased -- I had yet to once see this magnificent specimen until Jeff surprised me with it. It's Ichiro, it's a mini-collection hit, and it's a riff on one of my favorite Topps subset designs ever. And even with the flurry of images in our technological age, I had no idea it existed until almost a year after the fact.

I can go hunting and digging through the most obscure dime boxes in the world, but the hard but fun truth is that I'll always be missing something great, blind to the beauty sitting right in front of my face.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

The (Second) Dime Box Frankenset, Page 43: Numbers 379-387

Frankenset Page #18 WINNER -- 2017 Stadium Club #156 Lucas Duda (12 votes)

For better or worse, this page didn't have any of the four-way tie drama of the one that came before it.

Lucas Duda earned the crown from last week's group fairly easily, taking 12 of the 31 total votes en route to the win. No other card received more than five tallies, though all of them did earn at least one, which I always like to see.

But in the end, I think the right card won, so let's welcome Mr. Duda and the big apple into the Gallery of Frankenset Champions.

We're back with another higher-numbered group here tonight -- as per the Random Number Generator, Page 43 (#s 379-387) is up for grabs this week.

Let's meet the hopefuls.

1993 Topps #379 Mike Munoz

A pose and retro jersey worthy of vintage Topps.

1995 Bowman #380 Dean Palmer

I highly doubt this one makes the frankenset without the bright-orange outfit on that usher (or at least I hope he's an usher).

1998 Upper Deck #381 Jim Eisenreich

The one and only card I own of a dude autographing a teddy bear.

1995 Topps #382 Chris Haney

I've said it time and time again: 1995 Topps is grossly underrated.

2015 Topps Update #US383 Nelson Cruz


2016 Topps #384 Michael Morse

What was originally a ho-hum frankenset nominee became a lot more interesting when I just today learned that Mike Morse hit exactly one home run as a Pirate -- could this be a glimpse from that watershed event?

2014 Topps #385 Josh Willingham

For a reverse-angle look at this moment, check out the scoreboard on this very same card!

1973 Topps #386 Don Money

Today in the World of Garish Airbrushing.

1993 Upper Deck #387 John Valentin

We close with an excellent double dip from the frankenset-friendly '93 Upper Deck checklist.

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

Happy voting!