10% of my 2021 Cards Came In A PWE From Dimebox Nick

This is partly testament to how many cards Sir Nick Of The Dimeboxes can fit into a Plain White Envelope, but it’s also is an indication of how my incoming cardboard has slowed to a trickle:  During the first three months of 2021, a scant 171 cards came into my house… and 17 of those came in a PWE I received from Nick two weeks ago.

This doesn’t have much bearing on the PWE itself, other than that I may have appreciated it even more than I usually do.  I’ve been doing a lot of organizing over the past three months, and that’s great and waaaaaaaaaay overdue, but it’s always fun to get new-to-me cards.  I’ll share a bunch of them in this post, and save a few more for another post.

This 2020 Leaf card of top prospect Adley Rutschman is my third card of the Orioles “Catcher of the Future”… and the funny thing is that all three came from Nick..

They did a pretty decent job of replicating the original 1990 Leaf design, and with the catcher’s gear blocking all team identification you wouldn’t know at a glance that this is an unlicensed card. Has Panini or Leaf done an insert set of only catchers in their full equipment?  Seems like a natural.

As long as we’re talking about cards which were not licensed by Major League Baseball, I was happy to receive this 1993 Post card of Cal Ripken, one of the Cal oddballs which have evaded me to this point.  I sometimes wonder if it would look less awkward if they also photoshopped out the “8” from the front of his jersey.  Looks odd just sitting there

Gregg Jefferies was the Luis Robert of late 1980s, and this makes for my 15th different card of his from 1989, which seems like a lot by 1989 standards… except that TCDB shows over 200 different 1989 cards for Jefferies. Yes, many of them are Broders, magazine inserts, corrected errors, Tiffany cards and other variations… but even so, that’s a crap-ton of cards for the time.

Like so many products of the past year, I underestimated the demand for 2020 Topps Update and I had never seen any of the “#1 Prospect” cards based on the 1989 Topps design.  I didn’t realize that they used photos of the prospects in Minor League uniforms;  in this case, Ryan Mountcastle is wearing a Triple-A Norfolk Tides uniform.

Five years later and I still only have a couple of these 2016 Walmart Marketside cards… and again, I think they all came from Nick.  I like them, I just never run across them.

I think this is a “Silver Pack” card from 2019 Topps.  These things always screw me up because when they come to me after-the-fact I expect them to be a shiny parallel of the 1984 Inserts, but the photos are different so they are their own thing.

I’m not a collector of parallels, but the blue 2020 Big League parallels sure look nice with Mets cards.

1988 O-Pee-Chee is also a sort of parallel, but there’s always something cool about real OPC cards, as opposed to “We own the trademark” Upper Deck O-Pee-Chee cards… although those can sometimes be cool, like in 2009.

This next card also has the 1988 design, but it’s a 2005 Topps All-Time Fan Favorites card;  these sets were an odd beast… retired players on older Topps designs, but like with current-day Archives, the designs weren’t always for years that the retired player appeared in.  I like it better when they matched up – David Cone won 20 games for the Mets in 1988 – rather than having, say, Roger Maris on a 1974 design (I don’t think that actually happened, I’m just doing Mad Libs there … “Name of retired player”, “Name of favorite Topps set”)

I’ll save the best for last in this case…  I was very surprised to find a 1957 Orioles card in a PWE!  This Billy O’Dell card serves as a reminder that completing the 1957 Topps Orioles team set was a top goal of mine at one point (which basically got sidetracked by lack of card shows and lack of incoming revenue in my COMC account).

I’ll admit I didn’t know much about Billy O’Dell.  Turns out he was an All-Star in 1958 and 1959 and in those seasons put up 14 and 10 wins for some mediocre Baltimore teams.  His 1958 season is one that sabermetricians would appreciate as he lead the league with 2.69 strikeouts per walk, 0.5 home runs per 9 innings, and a Fielding Independent Pitching rating of 2.75.  I’m frankly too braindead at the moment to pretend to understand that last one other than to say “Hey, he lead the league!”

This does not cover all of what I got from Nick, but in an upcoming post I will combine the remainder of this PWE with another small PWE I got from Julie of A Cracked Bat.

Thank you very much, Nick!  As always, I appreciate your generosity!



Hey, Julie!

Last month I received a greatly-appreciated package from Julie over at A Cracked Bat…  I’ve had very few cards coming my way lately, so I enjoyed taking a break from my long-term organizing project and thumbing through stacks of unfamiliar cards.

I enjoy Sports Illustrated For Kids cards, and here’s one of still-long-haired Jacob deGrom. Trading Card Database says this is from 2015.

As much as I enjoy these cards, I think I’ve bought one issue of SI 4 Kids. Maybe I should do something about that. Or not.  I feel like if I subscribed to the magazine then all of the cards will be of teenage cornhole champions and New York Yankees.

2020 Diamond Kings! This is, by far, my favorite Panini product… a left-handed complement that brings to mind the like from Bruce Springsteen’s Thunder Road:  “You ain’t a beauty but, hey, you’re all right”. This card goes into my Aaron Nola collection.

When I was signing the praises of Diamond Kings a few months ago, a common response was “Yeah, but they keep using the same photos for the older players”. When I got this card, I saw what they meant… This is the same photo of Dom DiMaggio that was used in 2018 Diamond Kings. Oh, well.

I’m not big into Opening Day, but I like to pick up those base cards that are somehow different than flagship Topps. Since Anthony Rendon was in Series 1 with the Nationals, I knew from looking at the checklist that this card would fall into that category.  Interesting job on his jersey lettering.

With this package from Julie I inadvertently became a Trent Grisham supercollector. I actually don’t know much about him other than that the Padres got him from Milwaukee… Oh, and this OD card is another one where it’s been updated from Series 1.

I got a whole bunch of 2020 Big League from Julie, and I’m going to feature some of my favorites from her batch.

I guess its because the Marlins fly under my radar, but I had no idea who Harold Ramirez is (and it appears he played a full season in 2019). Great action shot, anyway.

More Big League.

I was planning on buying more Big League than I did, but then 2020 happened and I was left looking at empty shelves.

Evidence that Topps used Spring Training photos in Big League.

1981 Kellogg’s are the only standard-sized set in their run of sets.  I keep thinking of focusing on one Kellogg’s set and try to knock it out, but I just end up picking up 3-D cards as the opportunities present themselves.

One of these days there will be one Kellogg’s set which reaches “critical mass” and I will put an effort into completing that set. Right now, none of my Kellogg’s sets are more than 25% complete, so I will continue to meander through them as a low-to-medium priority.

This is just a fun card in so many ways.  I would never expect to see someone like Mackey Sasser in a Classic set, but there he is putting the tag on Jose Uribe (or at least attempting to put the tag on Uribe).

I was at one game at Candlestick Park in the late 1980’s, and the fans were serenading Jose Uribe with a call-and-answer chant of “U!  Ribe!”

One last card I’ll be featuring, this one goes into my Darren Daulton collection.  While I will confess to collecting Nola and Daulton, I categorically deny any rumors about my secretly being a Phillies fan. Both players were ones I saw play in the minors as prospects.

There were many more cards in this package, but I wanted to keep this to the highlights.

Thank you, Julie, for all of the cards!

And now, in honor of Julie, I will present the following music video…

Fountains of Wayne were best known for their 2003 Top-40 hit “Stacy’s Mom”, but I was a fan from their 1996 debut album right up until… Well… OK, I didn’t care for what would be their final album, “Sky Full Of Holes”.

At any rate, I thought this song (originally from the “Welcome, Interstate Managers” album) was appropriate… and I suspect that, from what I’ve heard about Cracked Bat Julie’s previous employer, she can identify with at least some of the lyrics…

The Story Behind Bob Sebra And Other Cards From “Dimebox Nick”

Nick, of the popular (and must-read) Dime Boxes blog, sent me a package back in June and I’ve been bad about not sharing any of the cards here.

I don’t use my “PWE Playhouse” artwork anywhere near as much as I should, so I’m going to get back to that…


Thanks, I feel better now.  I really should leverage my modest cartooning skills more than I do (…Joe mutters for the 728th time…)

Some of these cards came from a “Free Card Friday” or two, and others were add-ins by Nick.

For example, I put a claim on this card from a 2001 Long Island Ducks card set.  I love the “1982 Topps on steroids” design of this set.

Rod Henderson, BTW, had cups of coffee with the Expos and Brewers as part of a 10-year professional career.

Now I’ve got an odd relationship with the Long Island Ducks, who play in the independent Atlantic League.  My family moved to Long Island in the late 1960’s, when I was a toddler.  I grew up there and, with the exception of a few years in my early 20’s, lived there until the mid-1990s.  While away from Long Island I fell in love with Minor League baseball, but after I moved back attending a minor league game meant driving to northern New Jersey and beyond, so I only did it once or twice a year.  Naturally, a couple of years after I moved off of Long Island, the Ducks started up and I said “Well, don’t that just figure”.

Over the years the Ducks have had some well-known managers like Gary Carter, Bud Harrelson and Wally Backman and some familiar players like Dontrelle Willis, Eric Gagne, Rich Hill and Travis Snider.

The Ducks have now been around for over 20 years and I still haven’t gone to a game because I never got a chance when I went back “home”.  I still like the team, though, and I’ve had a few T-shirts, caps, coffee mugs and the like.

So when that Rod Henderson card showed up on Free Card Friday, I put in a claim on it.  Nick said “I’ve got more Ducks cards, do you want them?” and I said “Suuuuuuuuuure”.  Nick sent me a bunch, but I’ll spare you and share just a couple.

Doug Jennings will be familiar to anyone who was collecting in the late 1980’s.  This card also gives a decent view of the uniforms (which have stayed largely the same over the years).

Juan Bautista never made it to the majors, but I think he was in the Orioles system for a bit, and this was another decent photo.

Another Free Card Friday pickup was this 1971 Topps card of Steve Dunning.  He’ll show up in my 1970s: A-Z in a while, at which point I’ll mention that he was the last American League pitcher to hit a grand slam before the implementation of the DH.

I’m not actively working on 1971 Topps, but my set is about 45% complete from picking up cards here and there over the course of 40 years.  There will come a day when I get serious about this set.

I went from 1995 to 2019 without having any cards from 1995 Studio… and over the past 12 months or so I’ve acquired several… just dumb luck.

…But it’s a Met and Rico Brogna was a favorite of mine at the time, so I’m certainly not saying anything negative about this card.

Dave Magadan from the 1987 Classic set.  The green-bordered cards are from the first Classic issue, if I’m not mistaken.  This was a ‘throw-in’ by Nick, but it’s a card I needed.

Nick provided me with my first examples of 2019 Topps Gallery, including this Trey Mancini card.  I like Gallery cards, but I never see them in stores and rarely at shows.

OK, now on to one last card from “Free Card Fridays”…  I claimed this card of Bob Sebra specifically because it was Bob Sebra, and in the comments on Nick’s blog I said I would explain *why* Bob Sebra.

Sometime in the mid 1980’s I acquired the 1983 TCMA Tri-Cities Triplets set, but I honestly don’t remember how or why… I’m thinking it was some sort of deal promising a random minor league set for cheap. The Triplets, who played in southern Washington state, were an A-ball farm team of the Rangers and the one and only player from that team who played a game in the Majors was… you guessed it… Bob Sebra.

Back at that time I didn’t get to many minor league games, so I would collect anybody I saw in a minor league game who made it to the Majors.  In the same way, when I realized that one of the guys from this minor league set was in all three 1987 baseball card sets, I started to collect him as well.  I’ve got all of his mainstream Major League cards, and this card from Nick brings the number of Minor League cards up to at least four.

I was sad to find out that Bob Sebra passed away two weeks ago after spending nearly a year in the ICU of a Miami hospital.   My sympathies and prayers go out to the Sebra family.


Another Batch Of Goodness From Shoebox Legends

I recently received a padded envelope from Shane over at Shoebox Legends… Many of the cards were candidates for my “Dead Parrot” series and will show up there before long;  however Shane also included some great cards that I wanted to share as well.

2009 Upper Deck was the last licensed baseball set they made, and it was a nice one. I’ve always liked this understated design, and seeing Brian Roberts turn two while Raul Ibanez slides into second certainly doesn’t hurt the appeal of this card.

While idly pondering this card, I had a idea for a custom card design… Basically a mash-up of 2009 UD, 1961 Topps and 1959 Bazooka. You’ll be seeing more of this idea whenever there’s enough baseball going on for me to make 2020 custom cards.

Here’s another nice design in the “less is more” school, it’s an insert into 1992 Score: “90’s Impact Players”.

This makes me a little sad in a way, because it reminds me that there was a time when I enjoyed insert cards. Now there are so many uninspired inserts that most of it seems like clutter.

Here’s another fun insert – I think this was an insert, anyway. 1994 Upper Deck Collector’s Choice “Home Run All-Stars” complete with hologram (which scanned pretty well).

This 1995 Studio card of Jeffrey Hammonds reminds me of a line from the TV show M*A*S*H.

In whatever episode it was, Hawkeye hands a wine glass to a woman who takes a sip and says “I love wine… What is this?” That was kind of the reaction I had in 1995 to the new Studio set. I’d enjoyed Studio from 1991 to 1994, and then this credit card set came out. I know a lot of you love this set, but I look at it and see a card where two-thirds of the front is design with the player pushed off to the side.  It’s a clever idea and would’ve been a fun insert, but a bit much as a base set.

But you know what? I was pissed-off in 1995 after the lost 1994 World Series and the only new cards I bought that year was a hand-collated set of 1995 Topps… So appreciated or not, I do need this card for my Orioles collection. Besides, it’s not my favorite, but it’s not 1995 Fleer either (insert obligatory shudder here).

Quick hockey break… My vintage hockey chases don’t gain much traction these days because vintage hockey is in short supply where I live (even at the big regional show I go to). Then I see two cards I need from 1978 Topps and I say “Oh, that’s right… I am working on that set, aren’t I?”

These cards are not objectively great, but they’re from a set I ripped packs of back in the day, so they make me smile.

Gotta tell you, there are days when I think I should get rid of most of my cards from around 1990 and forward and just chase after 1970’s cards of any sport (or non-sport). Those impulses don’t last long, however (just in case someone was thinking that they finally found a trading partner for that vending case of 1973 Donruss “The Osmonds” cards they have).

By the way, if anybody finds out that I’m collecting Osmonds cards, please interpret that as a cry for help. “Someone help me! Help me! Help me pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease!” (A little Osmond Brothers joke there… )

Here’s a 1996 Fleer insert I don’t remember: “Tomorrow’s Legends” featuring a Mets pitcher who, sadly, didn’t become a legend due to injuries: Jason Isringhausen. Izzy wasn’t the HOFer that Mets fans dreamed on, but he did have a good career as a reliever.

There’s a lot going on here, isn’t there?

Who remembers 1997 Pacific Crown Collection? Who remembers Rocky Coppinger?

Rocky had a decent season in 1996, going 10-6 in 23 games. He finished a distant fourth in Rookie of the Year voting to (mentally switch my voice over to a sneer now) Jeter.

I didn’t notice until just now that the ornate and gaudy Crown Collection design includes the year “1997” in the lower left corner. These cards are kinda much, but I like them because they’re Pacific. To me, Pacific has that sort of 1984 Donruss “You don’t see them much” appeal.

2001 Topps Stars! Delino Deshields! Delino Deshields SENIOR!

Even though I was actively following the O’s at the time, I never think of the Orioles when I think of Delino Deshields. Funny, that.

Another forward-looking insert, 2006 Upper Deck “World Future Stars” card of Shlabotnik favorite Koji Uehara.

Because of my teenaged fascination with Japanese baseball, I at one point collected any Japanese player who came over to play in the Majors… but then there were just too many of them (and too many cards), so I abandoned that theme. I’ve always been a fan of Koji, though.

Another quick hockey break… Shane sent a bunch of cards from 1995-96 Leaf Hockey, most of which were Dead Parrots but there were also some Capitals from back when I used to follow the Caps, including defenseman Sergei Gonchar.

This is a pretty nice looking card, and thankfully it features the original Capitals uniform and not those blue, black and bronze monstrosities they started wearing in 1995. Looking back, 1995 was not a good year aesthetically.

As sort of a palate-cleanser before I get to the two biggies, I had to share something.  I would guess that Shane probably did what a lot of people do, which is to maintain a stack of cards (literal or otherwise) and just add to it as he comes across cards that might be of interest to his trading partners.  Well, these were scattered through the cards he sent, but Shane – inadvertently, I’m sure – “Bipped” me!

All three of these are from the “Rookie Sensations” insert to 1997 Fleer.

To make it absolutely clear, I thought this was really funny.  Maybe I’ll become an Ochoa power collector.

OK, now on to the highlights… First up is a card from the 1960/61 A&BC English Footballers set, which has a design you’ll recognize.  I think this makes for an even dozen cards I have from this set, which puts me at about 14% of a complete 84-card set.  I have no illusions of chasing the set, but I like these cards.

Peter Broadbent played in the 1958 World Cup and is a member of the Wolverhampton Wanderers Hall Of Fame.

I love the team listings on the bottom… “Wolves & England” sounds like it could be the follow-up to Joe Cocker’s “Mad Dogs And Englishmen” live album.  In reality, it references his professional team, Wolverhampton Wanderers, and his international team, England.  Obligatory Monty Python reference: Unlike several football-ignorant historical Communist figures, any Python fan worth a lick will know that Wolverhampton Wanderers won the Cup Final in 1949 (beating Leicester, 3-1).

And now it’s time for the headline attraction…  There’s a particular hockey set I’ve long wanted a card from, but have never pulled the trigger (partially because, as I said, vintage hockey cards are hard to find in Shlabotsylvania).  Shane picked up on my longings and sent me this beauty from 1964/65 Topps Hockey:

I don’t have any strong feelings one way or the other for Les Canadiens (other than loving their uniform and logo), and I was only vaguely aware of who Gilles Tremblay was before receiving this card, but I don’t care, I love this card in all it’s colorful ‘Tall Boy’ glory.  Look at those leather gloves!!!!

Here’s the back.  I’m not sure I understand the cartoon (caption = ‘Gilles was married in the off-season’)

Tremblay spent his entire career with the Habs, got his name on the Stanley Cup four times, scored 168 goals with 162 assists.

For my hockey collection I would like to have at least one card from each vintage Topps, O-Pee-Chee and Parkhurst set.  This checks one off the list, but I honestly don’t know what’s left.  I’ll have to get on that.

Thank you very much, Shane! I appreciate the hell out of these cards, and will continue to in future Dead Parrot posts!

Silly Rabbit… Nick Sent Me “Kids”!

Hopefully this isn’t a pop culture reference that goes over too many people’s heads. I know that Trix is still available in stores but is “Trix are for kids” still a thing? I’ve gotten burned too many times by making pop culture references to people without taking the age difference (or nationality) into account.

Which is neither here nor there…

I recently received a padded envelope from Sir Nick of the Dime Boxes. The cards sent displayed the usual Nick magic touch, as he sent me some cards I didn’t know existed and others I didn’t know I’d like.

First and foremost in the “didn’t know I’d like” was this Dwight Gooden card from 1992 Topps Kids.

While reading the next paragraph, please remember that I am saying that I like this card, OK? Thanks.

I wasn’t a fan of “Topps Kids” when it came out, I bought one pack and I was done.  My take on that pack was that the cards were a little too much “Oooh, widdle kiddy want a baseball card?  Yes, he does!  Yes, he does!”

To be fair, in 1992 I was in my late 20’s, so I was a bit removed from the target demographic…  Plus the pack I bought contained several cards featuring real heads on cartoon bodies, something I’ve always thought to be kind of disturbing.

Here’s the back of the Gooden… I like the backs of these cards…

The big cartoons help a lot. Baseball cards should be like a mullet; business up front but a party in the back.

This Cal Ripken card is a little bit goofy, but hey, it’s Cal and it’s a card I don’t have, so it goes into the 1992 page of the Cal Binder.

I feel guilty using Nick’s cards as an excuse to say “Topps Kids?  BAH!”, but it’s something I’d wanted to get off my chest.  I am completely sincere in saying that if the entire set were like the Gooden card, I would have a less Grumpy Old Man opinion of the set.

The package also included 2018 Topps Big League, which to me is more along the lines of what an entry level set should look like.  I feel a little guilty that this set didn’t get a lot of my retail dollar support, but by the time the set came out I was already “all in” on several other sets.  This Cal is a gold parallel… I think.  It’s some kind of parallel in a color I perceive as “gold”.

I’ve been in this hobby for 40+ years; believe it or not, these are my first two sheets of 1984 Topps Rub-Downs… One featuring Darryl Strawberry for my Mets collection…

one for my Cal Ripken/Orioles collection…

I’m not sure I saw packs of this back in the day… not that someone of legal drinking age was going to be drawn to temporary tattoos..

I admit that baseball card snobbery comes naturally for me.  I started collecting cards in 1974, became thoroughly obsessed in 1975 and…  I will admit it now… at the time I looked down my nose at Hostess and Kellogg’s cards.


Yup… to Young Joe Shlabotnik, if it didn’t come in a pack, it wasn’t really a baseball card.  “Anybody can just print pictures on the outside of a Twinkies box,” said Young Joe, “that doesn’t make them baseball cards!”  Of course, I was looking down my nose at other kid’s Hostess and Kellogg’s cards.  My mom didn’t buy those brands, so I didn’t get the cards first-hand.

Fortunately for me, I’ve come completely around on these cards and it’s kind of worked out well for me because now I have a new-to-me way to collect all of the best players from my youth.

…Players like Mick the Quick, airbrushed into a Yankees uniform.

It hadn’t really occurred to me before, but I should make 1975 and 1976 Hostess Yankees more of a priority, because I still liked the Yankees then (never as much as he Mets, though)

Kellogg’s are another oddball I’m making up for lost time with; This Greg Luzinski is from 1983.

The Bull looks odd in a White Sox uniform, I tend to think of him with the Phillies

The Bobby Murcer Story!!!!

I love these booklets, and I will post images from this once I manage to figure out how to hold the booklet open so I can photograph the comic panels inside. I haven’t read it yet, wonder if they refer to Murcer as “The Next Mickey Mantle”?

In honor of this 1985 Donruss Highlights card of Keith Hernandez, I loaded checklists of all three Donruss Highlights box sets into my personal database.

I didn’t get these cards back in the 1980’s because I was mainly focused on the flagship Topps and Fleer sets, so I forgot that 1985 Donruss Highlights was truly about 1985 highlights, and not a 1985 set listing highlights from the previous season. Keith Hernandez was the NL Player of the Month for July 1985; he batted .392 with 4 homers and 29 RBI.

2014 Panini Golden Age is one of those sets where I like the inserts far better than the base set.

I had no idea that there was a Beatles insert, so this card makes a welcome addition to my Beatles collection

I’d never seen cards like this before, so I had to look it up…

It’s a 1995 Upper Deck Sonic/Coca-Cola set… interesting that this is an unlicensed food issue put out by what had at the time been a licensed card manufacturer.

I’m late to the party with these 2004 Upper Deck Legends – Timeless Teams cards. I don’t really remember these from 2004, but I really like them now.

Nit pick: This version of the Mets uniform dates the photo as being from the late 1970’s, not 1969.  All is forgiven when Ed Kranepool is involved.

The following year Upper Deck did the All-Star Classics sets… Another set I’m scrambling to catch up on.

I find it kind of an odd choice by UD to make the player’s name so tiny, especially in contrast to the position and uniform number.  Maybe they thought it was like the covers of the later Beatles albums;  if you needed someone to tell you that these four guys are The Beatles, then you really wouldn’t want to buy the album anyway.

Walmart stores and their parking lots seem designed to raise my blood pressure a few points just by being there, so I never get Walmart-exclusive Platinum cards until I find them at a show or someone sends me some.

I guess somewhere down the road we’ll get to the point where we say “Hey, remember when Jacob deGrom had long hair?”

My first Mets card from National Baseball Card day 2018.

Like with the Donruss Highlights cards, I made sure that these NBCD cards are also in my database… and I got annoyed when I found out that the Mets Stadium Giveaway set is only 5 cards while most teams are 10. I really hope this isn’t a result of the Mets being cheap, but I suspect that it is.

Lately I’ve been working harder at bringing the size of my collection under control, I’ve been giving questioning the need for some of the parallels in my collection, and Topps Chrome cards are often shiny parallels of the regular Topps cards.  No such worries with this Noah Syndergaard card.   No shiny parallel here, this card has a different photo than the regular Thor card!

For some reason, maybe just semi-coincidence, I’m finding that Noah Syndergaard is often the “different photo” guy rather than just the “shiny parallel” guy. I’ll have more examples of this in an upcoming post.

Many thanks, once again, to Nick…  I always enjoy getting mail from Nick because I know the packages are going to be as diverse as it is fun!

…And for anyone who’s not familiar with my title’s pop culture reference… or even if you are…

70 and 83 from 5… (Tool Collector)

I was recently graced with a padded envelope from CommishBob, whose The Five Tool Collector blog is regular reading for me, and whose tweets about his many retirement activities make me very jealous (but that’s another story).

Bob sent me a number of cards to aid me in my chase —

No, no, “chase” is not the right word for it… In my *casual pursuit* of the 1970 and 1983 Topps sets.  I’m currently too lacking in focus to truly chase anything, much less vintage or semi-vintage sets.

I have my doubts as to whether my budget will allow me to ever complete 1970 Topps (looking at you, high #’ed Nolan Ryan), but I’m perfectly happy to keep after it and see how far I can get.

Bob sent me two cards which end in ‘0’ plus one which ends with ’25’, so you know right away that these are no mere commons.

I’ll start off with the HOFer, Gaylord Perry.

In 1970, Perry had 23 wins and 5 shutouts and finished a distant second to Bob Gibson in Cy Young voting.

1970 saw Tony Oliva lead the league in hits for the 5th (and final) time, and lead the league in doubles for the 4th (and final) time.

Oliva is one of those guys where I’m mildly surprised that he’s not a HOFer (He peaked at 47.3% in 1988). He was a 3-time batting champ, 8-time All-Star and the 1964 AL Rookie of the Year

Bobby Bonds has the card which ends with 25, possibly because he’d lead the NL with 120 runs in 1969.

Bonds was still a young stud at the time, 24 years old in 1970 and a year away from his first All-Star appearance.

With these two famous Giants in hand, I started to ponder whether I’d already hurdled the major obstacles towards a 1970 Giants team set… and then I said “Oh… Willie Mays. Never mind”.

Before we get to the cards from the other casual pursuit, let us cleanse the palate with two cards which were not off a wantlist but nevertheless greatly appreciated.

This card is from… (takes a deep breath)… The 1998 Fleer Sports Illustrated World Series Fever set.

The 1986 Mets were the greatest Mets team of my baseball lifetime, and I appreciate any cardboard representation of that team… especially MOOKIE!!!  I have to admit, I can’t help liking Mookie Betts just because he’s another Mookie (although Betts is a Mookie that Red Sox fans would like).

Like most baseball card collectors, I always enjoy adding a Don Mossi card to my collection.

This is the sixth Mossi in my collection. I have to admit, I sometimes feel guilty for singling out Don Mossi because of his unique appearance, but I’ll blame early childhood exposure to “The Great American Baseball Card Flipping, Trading and Bubblegum Book” for setting me down this path (and making the 1952 Topps Gus Zernial card a white whale for me).

OK, moving on… After getting a few of the 1983 Tribute cards in packs of 2018 Topps this year, it’s frankly kind of nice to get some real 1983’s which I need.

1983 saw the Baltimore Orioles win a World Championship… At that point in my life, the Orioles were just another team… although I will admit that I was rooting against the Phillies that year (but not against Tug McGraw… never against Tug himself).

Bob sent me both halves of the Orioles left field platoon that got them to the 1979 and 1983 World Series…

John Lowenstein…

…and Gary Roenicke

I loved these Super Veteran cards back in 1983; I wonder how well something like that would work now.

I would think that a subset which included guys like Bartolo Colon, Adrian Beltre, Miguel Cabrera and Ichiro would be a pretty darn cool.

Double shot of Bruce Sutter…

..as well as Larry Bowa, looking strange in a Cubs uniform…

…Even while these non-glossy, printed-on-grey-cardboard 1983 cards look so *right* when compared to their 2018 counterparts.  I just can’t help it, I’m old school at heart.

As always, I have to send many thanks to Bob for the very enjoyable package!  I’m relieved that one of Bob’s latest projects is something I may be able to contribute to, and a return package is in the works.

Saved By The Bob

One thing I’ve been tremendously lacking in this summer is focus. My attention span has been eroding over the years, and lately it seems like it’s come to a head. I get an idea for a post and start working on it, but then halfway through I get another idea and I abandon the first one – “temporarily”, I tell myself – to start on the new one… and then I get distracted by something else and start looking into that.

I had meant for today’s post to be one which returned to a popular post I did last year, but guess what? I haven’t finished it because I had other ideas. I also don’t have anything else ready because the drafts I have all require further research or thought or something else I wouldn’t be able to finish on time.

What’s a sportscard blogger to do?

Just when the skies were growing dark and despair spread throughout the land, it was CommishBob to the rescue! (For those who aren’t familiar with Bob, he writes The Five Tool Collector)

I got a padded envelope which contained two cards I’d expected, and a number of others which were very pleasant surprises.

One of my current projects… or to be exact, one of my many current projects, but one which is actually getting attention… is a 1960 Orioles teams set, and Bob sent two additions to the team set.

I’m guessing Barry Shetrone was something of a fan favorite, as he was the first Baltimore-born player to suit up for the O’s. He played only 58 games for the O’s and 2 for the Senators from 1959 to 1963.

I have a confession to make… My collecting the 1960 Orioles team set is largely a “crime of opportunity” because I already have the key card of the team set – Brooks Robinson. Truth be told, I’m not a fan of the 1960 design. It’s a nice enough set when it works (and it works pretty well on the Shetrone), but when there are too many bright, clashing colors (as sometimes happens) or when half of the player’s name disappears because the text doesn’t stand out enough from the background, these cards can be a trainwreck.

The funny thing is that I like the manager card design much better. Go figure.

…ESPECIALLY the backs:

Archives Snapshots is an small online set that Topps had done in 2016 and 2017… if there’s a 2018 set, I haven’t heard about it. I had intended to chase down a couple of cards from the 2017 set, but got distracted and forgot about it… but here’s one of the main cards I’d intended to chase after.

Cleon Jones is best known for his role in the 1969 Miracle Mets, a team which caused Bob some personal pain and suffering, so I thank him for this card.

The 1969 Orioles get equal time in this package.

I’ve been exposed to 1969 World Series facts and figures for all of my baseball life, but it never really occurred to me that for both of those inaugural League Championship Series, the team from the West division got swept in 3 games. In some alternate universe the 1969 World Series was between the Twins and Braves, and everybody went “Ho-hum”.

Two days ago I wrote a post that was largely about my indifference to retired players mixed in to current baseball card sets. That afternoon, what do I get from Bob? A retired *football* player from a current set (2018 Panini Classics).

In light of that post I feel kinda stupid for saying this but… I like this card. I’m a long-time Steelers fan – and loyally suffered through a number of crap-tastic seasons, so give me no grief about bandwagons – but it’s more that I like the fauxback design. When Panini can pull in the reins on their “Too many design elements is never enough” mindset, they are capable of making some nice-looking cards.

I’ve seen packs of this in Target, and I haven’t bought a pack of anything football in years, but if the price point is low enough I might buy a pack or two of this, just for grins.

Oh, just to feature the two expected cards… Bob is actively working on the 1979 Topps set, while I have been leisurely working on the same set for… Oh, let me think… 39 years. It’s gotten a bit of priority over the past couple of years because once it’s finished I will be able to say I have a complete Topps run from 1973 to 1981. Anyway, Bob had some doubles from his own in-progress set build, and these two cards were the overlap between his excess inventory and my needs.

Ross “Crazy Eyes” Grimsley is a guy that I have an odd affinity for… not even sure why. Ross won 20 games with the Expos in 1978, and 18 games with the O’s in 1974.

Jose Morales was a pinch-hitter extraordinaire, but put in time behind the plate as well.

Thanks again, Bob!  I greatly appreciate these cards!

…and for those of you needing a little Focus, there’s always this:

Still More Cards From DimeBoxedonia

Once more I dip into the well…  This is the third installment of “Cards I recently got from ‘Dime Boxes Nick‘ “.

Up until a couple of years ago, the only Action Packed baseball cards i was aware of was the minor league set they made in 1995.  As it turns out they made two series of “All-Star Gallery” in 1992 and 1993, and I’ve been slowly adding these to my collection.  It occurred to me that the only thing I know about these cards is that the black-bordered first series, like this Bud Harrelson, came out in 1992…

…and the red-bordered second series, like this Jerry Koosman, came out in 1993.

I don’t even know what else I might want out of these sets. When I get a chance I might have to dip into that font of checklist information that is Card Collector 7.0, a 15 year old software package which still manages to run (on my Win7 laptop, anyway).

The following is a public service announcement for casual faux card makers as well as graphics professionals:  Don’t fall into the trap of thinking “You can never have too many retro design elements!”.

Remember, when it comes to throwbacks, “less” is more.

I really liked 2011 Topps Lineage when it came out, but now it’s like years ago when there was that woman who worked in the company cafeteria and who was really cute in a way that I couldn’t quite put my finger on, but then one day the ‘spell’ was broken and no matter what I did I couldn’t quite see her in that same way after that……… and where was I?  Oh, yeah, Lineage.  At any rate, it’s Cal, so it’s cool.  Ripkens are always welcome.

I’m a tiny bit embarrassed that this is my first card of Mets catching prospect Tomas Nido.

I used to buy the majority of my Bowman cards at shows from a particular dealer, but that dealer stopped buying new product and I rarely get to shows anymore.  I guess I really should get on board with buying team sets online.

Not that I don’t appreciate the heck out of a Manny Machado relic, especially a nice-looking card like this, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Manny’s wearing a different team’s uniform tomorrow.

It’s like some wise person once said;  “We stink with you, we can stink without you.”

The package contained a couple of Orioles from 1960 Topps… This first card came with a note on the penny sleeve;  the note made ma laugh so I left the penny sleeve on when I scanned the card.

You ain’t kidding, “Poor Joe Ginsberg”.  With an entire corner torn off, paper loss and creases galore, this card is a bit beyond “well-loved” and goes into another category. It’s about as rough of a shape as one will find a card, but it ended up in the right hands.

Later in the package I found another 1960 Oriole with less damage and a bit more Hall-Of-Fame credentials…

Other than scotch tape on all four sides, this card is in pretty decent shape.  I really hate to start YET ANOTHER project, but these two cards get me about a third of the way towards a 1960 Orioles team set, and with Brooks out of the way, the biggest obstacles seem to be Hoyt Wilhelm and the high #’s.

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to the stage… Hoyt Wilhelm And The High Numbers!!!!

At any rate, it may depend on whether some disagreeable person somewhere has decided to drive up values by hoarding cards of Marv Breeding or Al Pilarcik.

I suppose I might also upgrade Joe Ginsberg… in an augmenting way, of course.  I think “Poor” Joe Ginsberg needs to stick around in some way.


The back of this card only notes that it’s from the “20 Years Of Mets Baseball” set, and it’s easy to overlook the “RGI” notation on the back. (BTW, Cliff Cook played 90 games as a utility guy for the Mets in 1962 and 1963)

However, anyone who read baseball magazines in the 1970’s and 1980’s and dreamed of getting “1,000 mint baseball cards for only $9.99” knows that RGI = Renata Galasso, Inc.

One of the benefits of having blogged as long as I have is being able to dip into the archives and pull up an appropriate image like this:

In a similar vein to that Renata Galasso set, TCMA did a series of “All-Time Teams” devoted to different major league franchises.  Over the years, cards like these (and Pacific Legends and Ted Williams Card Company and Swell Baseball Greats) have gone from “mildly interesting oddball” to “I should get more of these”

It occurred to me when I was going through my cards that the casual observer might think I’d gotten disgusted with the Mets and made a switch to the Phillies.

Well, I *am* pretty disgusted with the Mets, but I have not run out and bought myself a red baseball cap.  These cards are all for players I collect because they caught my attention when they were still in the minors.

I will, however, admit that the Phillie Phanatic is on the heels of Mr. Met and The Oriole Bird in my own MLB Mascot Power Rankings.  I’ve never seen the Phanatic in his natural environs but I have seen him (or perhaps a member of his “touring company”, if there is such a thing) a few times in minor league ballparks.

Joe Panik is another guy I saw in the minors.  I still roll my eyes at the fact that the card numbers have a “GG” prefix but the cards are labeled as “Fielding Award”.  I suppose I should be happy that they’re not listed as the “Precious Metal Mitten” or “Short-printed Hand Covering Award”

…And that covers the highlights from the legendary Dime Boxes package of June, 2018… I guess I’ll have to actually think of some sort of subject matter for next week’s posts.

Thanks again, Nick!

More Cards From DimeBoxedonia

Last week I featured the first of a number of cards from Nick, the owner and proprietor of the “Dime Boxes” blog.  There were so many highlights from the 200+ cards he sent, that I’ve got another post today (and one more after this).

This first card strikes me as a scene from “2017:  A Baseball Odyssey”…

Daaaaaa…. Daaaaaa…. Daaaaaa…. DAAAH DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

BOM bom BOM bom BOM bom BOM bom BOM…

This card confused the heck out of me at first, but I think I’ve got it figured out…

It looks like a 1970’s Kellogg’s card… but it’s not 3-D, it’s borderless and it’s printed on blank-backed cardboard.  What the WHAT?

After pondering it for a little while, I realized what it must be – I’ll bet it’s a sort of “box card” in that some resourceful kid (or adult?) must have cut it out of the “FREE INSIDE – 3-D BASEBALL CARDS” ad on the back of the cereal box.

I was also momentarily puzzled when I was entering some 2017 Topps into my homegrown database. As I was sorting on card number, I said “Oh, Nick sent me two of the same Trey Mancini card…”

And then I flipped them over and…

ZOINKS!  It’s the base card *and* the variation! Sweetness!

Speaking of 2017 Topps, just in case Nick was wondering, I thought I’d share why I had an Opening Day card of Drew Smyly on the wantlist I’d sent him…

The card on the right is the OD card he sent me, and it’s a pseudo-variation from the original Series 1 card on the left (which I already had) in that the team has been updated and the Rays uniform has been photoshopped into a Mariners’ uniform.

It took a bit of poking around on tradingcarddb.com to figure out what this card is…

This is from the 1991-92 ProCards Tomorrow’s Heroes set. I’d seen these cards around before, but new knew what the were. I like the name of the set… It makes it clear that it’s meant to be a prospect-y set, but while it includes HOFers like Jim Thome and Chipper Jones, players like Ryan Hawblitzel may well be heroes to some, even if they have just one line of stats over on Baseball Reference.

When Topps released it’s Walmart exclusive “Gallery” set last year, I made more visits to Walmart stores within a couple of weeks than I had in the prior few years. Despite my efforts, I never saw anything more than an empty Gallery display. Thank you, Aaron Judge.

I’d never so much as held one of these cards in my hand until I received four of them in this package; a pair of Mets…

…and a pair of Orioles:

These are nice cards, and worth the wait. The artwork is by Mayumi Seto, who is currently keeping busy as the artist for the Topps Living Set. I’m thinking there’s not going to be a 2018 Topps Gallery set.

Another 2017 set we’re not going to see again is the physical Bunt set.  I really liked 2017 Bunt – it was one of my personal highlights of the 2017 hobby scene – and would’ve gladly attempted to build the set through retail packs and trades, but the retail supply dried up long before I was done buying packs.  Once again, thank you Aaron Judge.

Thanks to this package, I got to at least put a dent in my team sets.  Bunt seems to be replaced this time around by Topps Big League Baseball which I believe is scheduled to come out this month.  I wasn’t bowled over by the preview images, but who knows… sometimes cards look a lot better in-hand.  I wasn’t a fan of the 2017 Topps flagship set until I’d opened a few packs.

…But I digress…

There are a bunch of sets from my childhood I appreciate more now than I did then… There are also sets from my teens and twenties I appreciate more now than I did then, like the Pacific Legends sets which ran from 1988 to 1990.

Look at Ed Kranepool!!  He played with the Mets from 1962 to 1979, but he looks like a kid here! And he may have been a kid in this picture; Ed was just shy of his 18th birthday when he made his MLB debut at the end of the 1962 season.

Love me some Fleer Star Stickers.

I also ignored these at the time, but if I hadn’t then I wouldn’t have so much fun re-discovering them now.

The 2001 Upper Deck Legends Of New York set is… interesting. The cards have a pseudo-newspaper-y or  magazine-y look to them, but you see that orange part of the card? It’s FUZZY! It’s a sort of felt-like substance.

To this day I’m not sure what UD was going for. Felt pennants? Fuzzy for fuzzy’s sake?

1998 Pacific Online had a less-than-beautiful design and the URL gimmick seems so very dated now… But at the time I enjoyed picking up packs solely because the large checklist included guys like Terry Mathews.

Mathews pitched 88 games for the O’s from 1996 to 1998 and this is his one and only card showing him in an Orioles uniform. But hey, he got in a Mother’s Cookies set while with the Rangers… and he was in 1991-92 ProCards Tomorrow’s Heroes! How about that?

Wrapping things up with a cool action shot from 1993 Upper Deck SP.

Hmmm… Bob Zupcic and Chris Hoiles in a play at the plate.  Assuming that this is Fenway Park and not a Spring Training game.  This would seem to be easy to isolate, but Zupcic was put out at the plate by Chris Hoiles in consecutive games in June 1993.  On June 12th, Zupcic pinch-ran for Tony Pena and was thrown out by Brady Anderson when he tried to score on an Ivan Calderon ground ball single.  On June 13th, Zupcic tripled and was still on 3rd with Mike Greenwell on 1st when he tried to score on a ball fielded by Orioles pitcher Fernando Valenzuela (!!!!), but was out at the plate on a fielder’s choice.

Thanks again, Nick!  As you can tell, I’m having a lot of fun with these cards!


A Shoebox Legend PWE Of Baseball And “Dead Parrots”

So I’ve had a long week… Nobody cares about the details, but it’s just been a drawn-out, tiring week on a number of fronts.

What does matter within the scope of this blog is that when I came home at the end of the longest day of the week, I found a PWE in my mailbox from Shoebox Legends. Finding a PWE in your mailbox is always a good thing.

Aside from the usual fun mix of baseball and hockey, the PWE also contained the first new additions to my new Dead Parrot Frankenset, which I’ll leave for the end of this post.

First off was a 2018 Heritage card of Noah Syndergaard… I don’t know where the Mets would be in 2018 without Thor and Jacob deGrom… well, other than looking up even further at the Braves, Phils and Nats.

But that’s still better than can be said of the Orioles, who are reportedly listening to offers for Manny Machado… Like I always say, we stink with you, we can stink without you.

…But it makes one long for the days of the Ripkens. Here’s a new addition to my semi-passive Cal Ripken collection which stands at… um… somewhere in the hundreds. Don’t really know.

This is from the 2005 Upper Deck All-Star Classics set, one I’m not sure I’m familiar with.

I, for one, miss having cards with photos like this one of Bill Ripken with a big freakin’ telephoto lens.

For all the talk of 1989 Upper Deck being a “classic” set, I really prefer 1992 and 1993 UD… especially 1993.

I didn’t become an O’s fan until the mid-to-late 1990’s, so Earl Weaver was before my time in an Orioles sense, but I’ve been a baseball fan long enough to be familiar with him as a manager. This is from last year’s Archives set, BTW.

I’m mildly intrigued by the funky-looking stands behind Earl. I wonder if that’s a Spring Training ballpark… does anybody recognize that?

Update: CommishBob informs me that this is the long-time spring home of the Orioles, Miami Stadium. Thanks, Bob!

I miss Melvin Mora and his walk-up music (Celia Cruz’ “La Vida Es Un Carnaval”) and his quintuplets.

“Derek Jeter says…” I’ll tell you what Derek Jeter says, he says “How the hell did Alex Rodriguez come to have a more positive image than I do?”

That does it for the baseball, but there’s a couple of hockey cards to feature before we get to the Dead Parrots…

Joe Juneau was on the only prior Capitals team to make the Stanley Cup finals in 1998… it’s a pity that they had those awful blue black and bronze uniforms at the time… and it’s unfortunate that Juneau’s face is covered by the text on the protective coating.  Is it safe to remove that film 20 years later, or will it pull the rest of the card with it?

I find it interesting that the Capitals make it to the finals 20 years after the first time.  For the record, 20 years before they were swept by the Red Wings in the 1998 finals, the Capitals were at home after a 17-49-14 season.  They really sucked back then.

There was also a card for my casual chase of the 1978-79 Topps Hockey Set… Doug Jarvis is shown with Les Habitants, but he’ll always be a Capital in my heart.

The PWE also included several cards which are my first new additions to my Dead Parrot project;  For those who missed the earlier posts, this is a FrankenSet numbered from 1 to 396 of cards featuring hockey teams which are no more, which have ceased to be.

First up in slot #27 is a 1972-73 Topps Keith McCreary card which takes over an empty slot.

McCreary is shown in an airbrushed Penguins uniform, but the card identifies him with the Atlanta Flames.  He was taken from the Penguins in the expansion draft and would become the Flames’ first captain.  Interestingly enough, the Penguins had drafted McCreary from the Canadiens in the 1967 expansion draft.

And, in a quirk of card numbering, slot #25 in my Frankenset is already taken by a very-well-loved 1972-73 O-Pee-Chee card of McCreary in his Flames uni.

With McCreary taking the bottom two corners on the third page, I’m tempted to keep them in place… well, I’m thinking I’ll have to upgrade that OPC card.

Next up for card #55 is this awesome 1977-78 O-Pee-Chee WHA card of New England Whaler Tom Webster

Webster is possibly best known these days for coaching the LA Kings for a couple of seasons, although he did also coach the Rangers briefly.

I have, on occasion, thought about completing the 1977-78 OPC WHA set because it’s small (66 cards) and largely affordable, but at this point I’m thinking I might just chase down most of the cards for this project… except, perhaps, for the Edmonton Oilers, the one WHA team which is *not* a ‘Dead Parrot’.

Webster did not go into the binder unopposed;  the slot was previously occupied by this 1981-82 Topps North Stars leaders card featuring Minnesota scoring leader Bobby Smith.

The combined might of the various North Stars leaders were not enough to keep them from being evicted from slot #55.

This next card becomes the shiniest Dead Parrot in my binder as the Nordiques’ Rene Corbet takes over an empty slot #97

This is from 1994/95 Topps Finest, and 1994/95 was the last season for the Nords before they moved to Denver to become the Colorado Avalanche. Aside from the Nordiques and Avalanche, Corbet would also play for the Penguins and Calgary Flames.

Last up is #112, which features new addition Gordie Roberts from the 1980/81 O-Pee-Chee Hockey set. Unlike it’s Topps counterpart, OPC did not feature the asinine “scratch off” gimmick, so this card is unblemished by black scratch-off crap.

Gordie Roberts was born and raised in the Detroit area, so it’s not a surprise that he was named after Red Wings legend Gordie Howe. Roberts even got to play with Howe and his sons while all four of them were with the Whalers.

Gordie Roberts played a long time with the WHA Whalers and a number of NHL teams (including, obviously the NHL Hartford Whalers) and is in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame. His brother Doug also played in the NHL for a number of years and also played with his brother on the New England Whalers… but unfortunately he was no longer on the team when the Howes came to New England. What a story that would’ve been, two families, five players on the same team!

So that wraps up this PWE… Thanks again to Shoebox Legends for the tremendous and well-timed PWE!

Oh, and before I leave I’m going to figure out where I stand on this Dead Parrot project — unofficial numbers because I rushed through counting cards as I was finishing this post. I’ve got 186 cards for 396 slots, which means I’m 46.9% of the way towards a full binder. Not too shabby considering I haven’t had a chance to actively seek out cards for this.