Wednesday, December 28, 2022

A bit of a Scrooge

It's safe to say that working retail for most of my adult life has soured me a bit on the supposed magic of the holiday season.

I still have a soft spot for Christmas itself, but each passing year the lead up to it is met with relief more than anything. The bookstore I work at does the majority of its annual business in December alone, which means far more people and questions and gift wrapping than any other time of the year. I worry sometimes that losing the sentiment of the Christmas has turned me into a bit of a Scrooge. 

Thankfully, I have a number of reminders that there is something to be treasured in the holidays - one being that I was the recipient of a special "Baseball Card Breakdown" Christmas-themed gift from Gavin that have been making the rounds around the blogs.

(Side note: today is my mom's birthday, and Mark Grace happens to be her all-time favorite ballplayer. Happy birthday, Mom!)

The Grace came at a good time since I'm way overdue in posting some other cards I've received from Gavin in the latter half of the year.

I was lucky enough to win a contest on Gavin's blog a while back, and got to cherry-pick a few cards from his trade bait stack as a result. I, like so many fellow bloggers, am immune to the pleasures of Gavin's customs, so of course I had to nab that bubble-blowing bonanza of collection favorite Tony Gwynn.

The Hoffman, however, is very much a real card, and one I've been targeting for a while since it offers a rare glimpse of his zero-year Reds days.

A few other prize claims from Gavin's contest - Reggie is a Burger King oddball, Jenks is an X-fractor (and yet another zero-year card!), and please give me all your Topps Retired Signature cards.

Gavin threw in a few bonuses with my prizes, including these two that get me a couple steps closer to this Pro Cards MusiCards set I'm kinda sorta trying to complete.

(Though I have to admit I've never been a huge Led Zeppelin fan, he says, ducking the fists about to come.)

A separate envelope from Gavin saw a few more excellent customs come my way, including this beautiful Kellogg's-That-Never-Was Dave Winfield rookie.

Winfield ended up wearing a lot of uniforms in his career, but I don't think he looked half as good in any of 'em than he did in the old yellow-and-black Padres jerseys.

A few other customs that are actually reprints of real cards - only technically, however, in the case of that Dick Allen, which was a Topps proof that never officially made it to market.

(Editor's note: I've since acquired the real deal of that Walewander, and the two look great next to one another in my Yankees binder!)

And here's the part where Gavin gave me a heart attack.

Yes, friends, that's indeed a true Ron Santo auto from Topps Retired Signature. It takes a lot for me to get revved up by an autograph card these days, but damn if this card doesn't do it. A beautiful on-card signature of one of the greatest Cubs in history, and longtime favorite of my collection. Hard to believe anyone would send this card free out of the goodness of their heart, but that's Gavin for you.

With friends like these, I really don't have much of a reason to be a Scrooge - please remind me of that this time next year when someone asks me if I can gift wrap 18 different books for them.

Wednesday, December 14, 2022


I'll admit now that I was always afraid of getting hurt in Little League.

I remember getting beaned once, but I think it stunned me more than anything - it was during one of my first years, so the pitch couldn't have been going more than 30 MPH. I also remember lining a ball down the line that hit the third baseman in the wrist and forced him out of the game (postscript: I later became friends with that kid in high school). But I was afraid of getting hit, and usually struck out against the kids who threw hard (or whatever qualifies as "hard" when you're in fourth grade) because I had one foot out of the box.

I guess my fears weren't completely unfounded - the sport may not be entrenched in violence like football, but if you watch baseball long enough you'll see a fair amount of injuries. Still, baseball's leisurely pace makes it even weirder to see those rare moments of pain forever frozen on cards.

Just ask Craig Biggio, whose 268th(!) career plunking set a new modern mark is immortalized on this strange Topps card - and one that takes the term "Record Breaker" to a whole new level.

For no particular reason, I had the idea to collect the most painful baseball cards into a single, garish post here tonight.

There (understandably) haven't been a lot of HPBs documented on cards over the years, but one notable exception is this classic Classic of Andre Dawson getting pulverized by a fastball - in true Hawk fashion, he somehow got up and charged the mound shortly after. 

I've always wondered if these guys know about their weirdly painful baseball cards, and what their reactions would be if they didn't.

What would poor Ryan Thompson say, for example, if you showed him a card of him writhing on the ground (presumably) after getting nailed by a pitch?

I collect cards of double plays and plays at the plate - two relatively common baseball events that have become far less violent in today's game.

You'll find a fair amount of said violence depicted on the cards I have in those mini-collections, and these are a couple that instantly came to mind - I really hope that anonymous Dodger didn't suffer any kind of spinal injury after getting overturned by The Kid.

I don't know what card has made the most appearances on this blog, but the famous '73 Topps Pat Corrales would definitely be in the running.

It's a perfect clash of so many different areas of cardboard weirdness - not the least of which being the Fergie Jenkins cameo! - and I show it again here because no discussion of painful baseball cards is complete without it.

John Smoltz's '96 Pinnacle card is a big batch of strange.

The front features a shot of him hitting, which explains why it took me a long time to even think of turning it over and finding the extra little easter egg of him yelping in pain on the back.

You could start a landfill with the number of Pacific Nolan Ryan sets out there - seriously, they seem to be in every dime box I find - but there's a number of weird photos in the set that prove ubiquity doesn't necessarily equal "bad."

Not the least of which is this one, featuring the Hall of Famer profusely bleeding all over a uniform that probably warranted a good run through the wash after the game.

But in the end, if you ask me "what's the most painful card ever made?"...well, I'd have to go with this one.

For starters, I still wonder how an image like this ever made it onto a baseball card - and I can't imagine it ever will again. I can only guess at what we're seeing here, but it looks to me the good folks at SP saw Pat Borders get clipped by a backswing, saw his head split open, saw the blood running down his cheek and chin, and finally said "yep, that's the one we're using." But maybe they knew what they were doing, because, with apologies to Mr. Borders, here I am talking about said baseball card 30 years later.

For all my fears of getting plunked or spiked in Little League, I guess, in hindsight, I didn't have it so bad - at least my pain wasn't printed for all to see in a pack of baseball cards.

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Eleven years

Against all odds, "Dime Boxes" turns eleven today.

I say it every year, but it's really incredible to know that something I started when I was 19 is still going strong today. The flux of my twenties did nothing to kill my love for blogging, and my appreciation for being part of such a great community who listens to me ramble about weird uniforms and shiny cards. While I might not blog as much as I once did, I've never had a thought about letting this blog wither - and that's a testament to the people here more than anything. So for that, as always, I thank each and every one of you.

I thought of various ways to celebrate this very Spinal Tap-ish anniversary, but in the end I couldn't come up with anything better than what I did last year - and that's to GIVE AWAY BASEBALL CARDS!

I've managed to accumulate a good amount of extras throughout the course of this year - probably because I've sent out a sad amount of care packages (which I should really rectify).

Anything you see in this post is up for grabs - and if you'd like to send something in return, that's always welcome, but by no means necessary. Also, if we haven't traded recently, please email your mailing address to me at nickpecucci AT gmail DOT com.

We'll start with a few oversized items, but for the forthcoming nine-pocket pages, simply comment with something along the lines of "Page 1, #4 (Eddie Murray)" or something along those lines. Picks will be first come, first served, and feel free to claim as much as your conscience allows - I'll do my best to update this post with what's gone/still remaining. (Also, due to obnoxious shipping costs, I'm gonna have to limit this to US claimers only. Sorry, Canadian friends!)

For starters, I've got this partial Miller Lite Brewers set I picked up at a show over the summer but don't think I blogged about - I removed a few of the cards I needed for my own collection, but the rest are looking for a good home.

(All oversized cards claimed!)

A handful of oversized cards here - you can simply comment with "Oversized - Tucker" or something like that if one of these strikes your fancy (warning: those helmet inserts are incredibly thick!). 

And now, without further ado, the pages!

Page 1

(Note: good amount of creasing to Garvey & Mays.)

(Claimed: #s 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)

Page 2

(Entire page has been claimed!)

Page 3

(Entire page has been claimed!)

Page 4

(Claimed: #s 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9)

Page 5

(Entire page has been claimed!)

Page 6

(Note: Marte is numbered /99.)

(Entire page has been claimed!)

Page 7

(Claimed: #s 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)

Page 8

(Entire page has been claimed!)

Page 9

(Entire page has been claimed!)

Page 10

(Entire page has been claimed!)

Page 11

(Note: Kluber is numbered /250, and Duffy is a throwback logo variation numbered /99.)

(Entire page has been claimed!)

Page 12

(Entire page has been claimed!)

Page 13

(Entire page has been claimed!)

Page 14

(Note: Thames is an action photo variation.)

(Entire page has been claimed!)

Page 15

(Note: Fernandez is a Heritage foil parallel.)

(Entire page has been claimed!)

Page 16

(Claimed: #s 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)

Page 17

(Claimed: #s 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 9)

Page 18

(Claimed: #s 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9)

Page 19

(Claimed: #s 1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9)

Page 20

(Note: Griffey has a bit of chipping along the top edge.)

(Claimed: #s 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9)

There you have it - get claiming, and thanks for eleven great years!