Priceless Junk

History has always been something I was fond of, something that I actually did well in when I was in school.  As I’ve gotten older though, my focus and ability to research has decreased significantly.  Life gets in the way. Between work, tending to our eight year old, taking care of our two cats, a dog and of course, spending real quality time with the bride.  I have to prioritize extracurricular hobbies and interests. That includes my interest in researching baseball history.  Almost to the point where I’m just stuck attempting to remember what I watched when I was a teen and going from there.  The attic has gotten a little dusty my friends.  My memories have faded to questionable facts and made me hesitant to believe baseball truths that I once knew.  It’s all diminished, really.    

Every once in a while I’ll read a baseball book.  I finished a couple over the summer and have plans of getting at least three – four more baseball focused books in before the end of the year.  But plans are tenuous when you’re busy adulting in life.  One thing I do find time for is a card shop visit every couple of weeks.  I’m lucky to have two so close to me, Hoody’s and The Sports Room.  They balance each other nicely.  The Sports Room is the closest, oldest and the one I’ve gone to the most, but their selection is a little limited for the way I collect.  Our other shop is Hoody’s.  It’s the place I go to pick up items I won from their eBay shop.  I do the in-store pickup to avoid shipping costs and it gives me a chance to see what they have new in store. 

I stopped in a few months ago, around June or July…sometime over the summer to pick up a few Washington Football Team cards and noticed they restocked their junk wax shelves.  The shelves are a great way to buy something to open with little guarantee and most importantly, little cost.  You can get all of your junk wax box needs filled for Baseball, Football, Basketball and Hockey for an appropriate price…read, less than $30.  When I stopped in there back over the summer they had about five boxes of the 1991 Conlon Collection cards.  Each box was a mere $15.  The cards aren’t noteworthy or overly exciting, but they do have a great place in baseball history…something that I love and enjoy.  I’ve seen these cards over the years and thought they were decent and somewhat attractive.  Simple and clean. Something that piqued my interest from time to time, but never thought about purchasing, that is…until that day. I had an itch to rip something and the price was right so I grabbed the box that was in the best shape, picked up a couple supplies and headed home. When i got home, i’m sure there was some shit going down in the house. So, the box was stored in the cabinet and forgotten about. Forgotten until i stumbled across an older Cardboard Connection article from 2014, by Ryan Cracknell.

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When you open a $15 box of cards, you certainly don’t expect much.  I surely did not. 

No hits. 

No parallels. 

No redemptions.

No frills.

Just 36 packs of 18 black and white cards.

That’s it.

And I loved it.

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My first impression of the cards was that they were far nicer than I had ever thought they would be.  My second impression of the cads was why in the hell would they wrap them in cellophane without any way to rip the packs open.  Seriously, what in the hell.  I had to grab a pair of scissors to get into these cards.  I’ve never used scissors to open a pack of cards ever…EVER!  First world issues I guess.

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As I mentioned, the cards were no simple.  No frills.  That said, I thought the photography was phenomenal.  I loved the portraits from the sets namesake Charles Martin Conlon.  A skilled photographer from the first half of last century.  The images capture the look and feel of the time along with some great history.  Conlon’s collection was purchased by The Sporting News (1888-2012 as print) and therefore, the now defunct sports magazine (they gotta website though!) has its name associated with these cards.

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Here are a few of my favorite cards from the sets.  I combined them into a couple different groups based on noticeable things to me.  But maybe if you’ve worked on this set, you have some other favorites. Of course, i have to start with the Yankees and one of the most famous trips to the injured list, Wally Pipp and Lou Gehrig.

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George Herman “The Bambino” or “The Sultan of Swat” Ruth. One of the great things about these beautifully simple cards is their backs. They offer up a full career of your basic baseball stats, along with the basics of the guy and in some cases a great little story. Well, the Babe’s career was pretty illustrious, that they were only able to reference Roger’s summer of 61 homers in 1961 to surpass Ruth’s 34 year old record. When you start to review the stats on the back of these cards, you really get an idea of how dominant a player Babe was…albeit against white players only. If our country wasn’t so deeply rooted in racism, it would have been a wonderful thing to see what Babe could have done against Satch, Bullet Rogan or Ray Brown.

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The nicknames and this cards set willingness to embrace those nicknames is great. The thing i noticed right out the first pack though was the amount of players with Chief associated with their names. In two of the three cases below, the players were indeed Native Americans and i would only assume that the guys were ok with the nicknames, but who knows. The perception with a 2021 lens would never allow this to happen. Different times. Apparently, Chief Wilson was not a Native American…but some felt he resembled that of a Texas Ranger Chief and adorned him with the mildly inappropriate nickname. Can’t imagine that ever happening again.

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We also have a General that wasn’t quite a General. He was at least in America’s Army…so there was some kinda connection to the military based name.

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OK, I’m very familiar with Walter Johnson…Jimmy Austin, not so much. The thing that drew me to these two cards though was the similarity…at least to my minds eye…to Robin Williams. Maybe Williams from ‘The World According to Garp’ or ‘Mork & Mindy’ even…not so much the ‘Ms. Doubtfire’ days. But seriously, don’t these two photos look like Robin Williams…come on!!??!?!

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Lefty’s. Lot’s of Lefty’s. Grove’s, Gomez’s and a Stewart to name a few. I understand why a Lefty gets his nickname, but i wondered if a Righty has ever been called Righty? What about the new ambidextrous guys taking the mound these days…do they get a nickname?

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The next group of photos starts to get into the portraits that I loved with these cards. The eyes. The facial texture and our ability to get a sense of their emotions or concerns through the photographers lens was powerful to me. The Connie Mack cards really had me taking time to look at his portrait. You can see the age in his face, the stress. He’s a man that led one of the most dominant baseball franchises in history.

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One of the other spectacular things about these cards were the Great Stories portion of the set. Each card in this section has a paragraph or two from ‘The Glory of Their Times’. I’ve owned this book for a couple years now, but never got around to reading it. (adds to my Goodreads list…)

All Time Leader cards pick up near the end of the set along with some great descriptions about the players. I do appreciate that they didn’t highlight the number one guy, but rather the second or third one in some cases. Besides, who doesn’t want a Spud Davis card?

After seeing this card, i thought it would be great to do some kind of small set with players from different generations that had the same name. I would imagine Bill “Spaceman” Lee and this guy would have some opposing views of the world if they were able to discuss them.

The last couple of cards were my favorite from the set. Paul “Big Poison” Waner’s photo is just simply majestic. The baggy pants. The snarly look. The long knobless bat held at the waist line. Everything about this cards speaks to the great history of the game. Waner is one of those past time greats that get lost in the history of the game, but his tremendous career brought him to the Hall of Fame in 1952. The last card is one of my all-time heroes, Lou Gehrig. One of the books i read over the summer was the ‘The Lost Memoir’, which was a collection of stories that Lou has partially written for the Times when he was playing with the Yankees. Some of the stories were ghost written by a more formidable writer, but you get a great sense of the humility and self-lessness he had as a player and as a person. Definitely one of the all-time great players and humans.

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Well, i hoped you enjoyed that recap. As you may have guessed i will be putting this set together. I’ve done some additional research and see that this set is a continuously numbered set going over 1200 cards and through 1994. The one rub though is that some of the photos, well…a bunch of the photos get reused. So be it…once i’ve started, i must continue. I am a completionist!

thanks again for reading!

-Cardboard Hogs

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And now, time for something completely different…well, mostly. It uses baseball as a metaphor for police brutality…so, yeah…baseball.

Cabin fever + Homeless shelters + Art

The ice has thawed and the snow is melting…today was the first day that we were able to get out of the house and venture around a bit.  It was much needed after a day and a half together you need a break from your home, you know?  I was super excited to check out a couple of things in our city and show our kid his beautiful city.  The big item on my checklist today was a visit to something my new office has been a part of the past few months, the Partners on Dwelling (POD) initiative of Portland.

In a very tiny nutshell, it’s a plan that was set in place with city leaders/visionaries, Portland State University and a handful of architects in town to build very simple, easily constructible housing prototypes for the homeless population in our town.  Now, this is by no means meant to cure all the ills that are attached to homelessness…but to hopefully fill some kind of void in many peoples lives.  I know there are a ton of political and personal issues associated with this subject and i’m not going to get into that debate…what i wanted to show you though was some exceptional work done by my very talented office.  Now, keep in mind this project was designed and built by my coworkers with the goal of fabricating everything for $2,000 or less.  I’m not sure that was completely achieved, but what the folks at my office created was awesome…in my opinion…as well as a certain 4 years old.  Here is some background on Cabin A from my office…and some images from the visit today.

Funny story, my kid discovered the door lock and waited until the cabin was empty and locked himself in…he couldn’t really get into any trouble, it was just…you know…embarrassing a little, but hey you laugh and move on!  That’s my boss looking and laughing at my offspring…luckily the boss is a good guy.

There was a lot of great work done by everyone today, but in my opinion…this was by far the best as it had the smallest footprint, maximized material limitations and was most likely the closest to the $2,000 target.  Regardless, all the work was definitely a best foot forward for helping those that need help…and shelter.

Stepping off my soap box now.

I don’t have any cards to show today, but rather some art that i’ve picked up from Gypsy Oak over the past couple of months.  I think most you are following him on twitter @gypsyoak and maybe have stopped by his Gypsy Oak website to pick up a couple items of your own…if you haven’t, i would highly recommend it.  The pieces that he has available are great and not too expensive for the common man…:).  Here are a few that i wanted to share with you guys.

A couple Yankee greats…i’ve always had a fascination with Lou Gehrig…one of my friends passed away from ALS a few years ago…so i’ve felt more drawn to the history of the Iron Horse.  The Joe DiMaggio image is just fantastic.

Now…I’m a baseball fan.  A fan of all generations and all levels of greatness.  Being a Yankee fan, i can appreciate the absolute greatness of Ted Williams and the icons career.  Willie Mays is just fantastic and in my humble opinion, the greatest all around player of all time.

Here are a couple more legends as i step further back in baseball time with a couple fantastic images of Honus Wagner and Walter Johnson.  These 4×6 images are really fantastic and he’s constantly producing new work.

go-muhammad-ali

I couldn’t not get Ali…

2014 Topps S1 – Packs 1 and 2

I’ve always been a little slow and therefore have been late to various things in my life.  So i’ve developed a mentality of sitting and waiting for other people to do something before I go.  It allows me time to think of what I want to do or can provide…since 2014 Topps has been out for a couple of weeks I’m going to show you what I got as well as give you a piece of my mind! 🙂

I know some folks don’t like the Topps flagship or are upset with their exclusive MLB license.  You won’t get any of that vibe over here though, I’m all in for the Topps flagship.  To the parallels and inserts, I say…”I don’t care” or “I choose to ignore you”.  I say that to the cards.  Take them out of the center of the packs and put them aside.  Sift through the base cards first and them make my way to the “hits” part of the program.  You should probably also know that I always eat muffins by starting from the bottom and working my way up.  I like to save the best for last.  Gives me something to look forward to.

On to the card judgement.

Topps has come back with the white border cards and personally i’d like to see a different color border, or possibly a full bleed.  I know this isn’t anything groundbreaking but a little variation would be great for the borders.  I’d like to se a card from each year and know that there was more than just a slight variation of the previous years designs…something bigger like the changes in card designs from 85 to 86 to 87.  Basically I want a fresh and new design each year.  The photos though, those are great.  Lots of action photos from what i’ve seen so far and great shots of men leaping in to walls.

14 TO Victorino Heyward

One of the things that Topps has done with their photos is select the image that makes you stop…and look…and think…why this photo?  The Crisp card has appeared all over the blogosphere and it now appears here.  That afro is straight up Oaktown.  If rappers had baseball cards, this would be the exact same image that Boots Riley from The Coupe would have.  Big Ass Afro and a clean pair of mutten chops piercing out of each cheek, shoulders back doing the Bernie lean.

14 TO Coco Crisp

Besides the cool images, you get the obligatory post game celebration photo.  The gatorade bath.  Now, this would make a much better football card.  In fact, I think Topps should have one football head coach card next year and it should be Pete Carroll getting an orange bath after the Super Bowl and it should be card number 48.  That’s a free one for you Topps people, run with it.  This Dozier card though…it reeks of gimmick that folks complain about.  Dozier…remind me of the Souls of Mischief lyric…’Maintain composure, hit dosia, pick a booga, don’t be shook up, i got the hook up.’

14 TO Brian Dozier

TWO OAKLAND RAP REFERENCES in one blog post!

This kid.  Love this kid.

14 TO Bryce Harper

One last base card before i show a couple of the ‘Hits’.  The Kendrys Morales card.  This card should never have been made unless it was a Mariners team card.  In this modern world of high price cameras and digital media at every turn, how can you have a card of a player that only shows his back.  AND THE BACK IS OUT OF FOCUS!!!  Seriously??!!??!  The only guy that’s really in focus is Felix Hernandez.  Not Morales!  The moral of this card is that team celebrations are good and should only be shared as a team card.  Really bad decision on this one.

14 TO Kendrys Morales

Mini’s.  Die Cuts.  I love both and that’s what you get this year!  Some 1989 design mini with various border colors that are die cut!  Yes please!  Sign me up for that.  AND I get a Lou Gehrig.  Such a lucky boy I am.

14 TO Lou Gehrig 1989 Mini

This next pair of cards came in my first two packs and I started to think I had a Segura Hot Box.  Guess you will have to wait and see…I’m not trying to tease you, I have no idea either as i’ve only opened two packs.

14 TO Jean Segura The Future Is Now

Be on the lookout for the following 8 packs America.  I can only hope that I get more blurry cards of guys backs.