Dimebox Winnings

So about month or so ago Dimebox Nick (it feels weird for me to call him Nick even if I’m “other Nick”) celebrated his seventh anniversary of blogging by running a little contest. It was an easy one to enter as his blog is enjoyable and he deserves all the congratulations he gets. My blog has been all over the map in the eight years it’s been running and I’m surprised anyone not related to me still reads it.

Anyway a bit of his, and his father’s, luck rubbed off on me and I ended up winning the contest! A few days before Christmas a good-sized box of cards showed up in my mailbox and while I couldn’t dig in in earnest super quick I was able to pop it open and take a quick look.

The Chris Speier Pepsi disc was exciting enough and I could see a decent stack of old cardboard in one end of the box. This was a great way to usher in the holiday and the first thing I did when I did get a chance to crack into the box in earnest was penny sleeve all the old vintage so that I didn’t feel like I had to handle everything with kid gloves.

Where it’s completely obvious to protect a card that it’s good shape in order to keep it from getting damaged, I’ve found that it’s in the lower end where I want things to be in sleeves or semi-rigids. As surfaces get rougher and edges and corners get softer, they just feel like they’ll catch on things and damage themselves even further. So as silly as it seems I put the damaged cards in sleeves so I can sort of arrest the damage and actually feel comfortable flipping through them.

This batch of well-loved 1963s is a good example of the condition. These must have been peak flipping age for the original owner since they’re soft and scuffed all over. Many still present well enough though despite the damage—a testament to the strong colors and graphics in this design.

I really like the Pizarro card with its Yankees Stadium background and how you can see the Polo Grounds outfield stands on Oldis’s card. There’s also something classically perfect about the Fregosi card.

It’s also always nice to get any card which predates the 1960s so the 1959 Simmons is very much appreciated. And the 1960 Dick Hall with the Kansas City A’s a great fit for my moves/expansion project. While not a year I’m focusing on for the A’s, pretty much any card from Kansas City has a place in the binder.

The 1965s are all great. The Juan Marichal is a beaut, as is the Same Mele with that classic “manager” pose. The Jesus Alou is one I needed too so that’s awesome.

The 1966s are a lot of fun as well. The Rusty Staub is great. I love DIY traded cards like the Cepeda even though it pains me to be reminded of his trade to St. Louis. Woody Held is an all-time great name and I’ll always have a soft spot for Bill Rigney as the first San Francisco manager. I especially enjoyed seeing Donn Clendennon whatwith my Clendennon/Stargell card from this year being one of the few old card in my childhood collection.

Lots of purple in the 1967s. As much as I dislike facsimile signatures this is a nice looking photo-centered set. I especially like the Roy Face card because of all the wonderful things going on in the background. Bob Bolin is actually an upgrade on my existing card. Zoilo Versailles is just a classic look and Mack Jones is a great picture of the new Braves unis.*

*My 1966 Braves cards are all hatless.

The 1968 Don Sutton is pretty beat up but fits nicely in my Hall of Fame binder. He looks so weird without that 80s perm I knew him with (I loved his cards in the 80s since they had tons of stats). The Orioles team card is a fun photo. And that Lee May is a nice-looking 69. It’s a shame that that set is known for hatless  photos, blacked out caps, and massive photo re-use since when proper photos are used the design really sings.

The 1970 cards feature none of the wild/weird photography that I especially love in this set. These, while pretty straightforward, still show the change in camera format that occurred in this time with how they show so much more background image (compare the 1967 Face with the Dal Canton here). I particularly like the Roberto Pena card showing the Padres uniforms and the Max Alvis card with the huge chaw in his cheek.

Also that 1970 Kelloggs 3D card is fantastic and represents my first card from this set. Anything lenticular is my jam and this is now my oldest example by far of any kind of lenticular card. Is awesome.

The three 1971s are kind of beat up but still look great. I especially like the photo on the Dal Maxvill card and how much space we have for the action image. It’s not a great look in general but for some reason works in this design.

The two 1972s include my first first-year Rangers card. Having looked at the gallery of first-year Rangers cards it’s an amazingly awful collection of up-nostril photos. I still would like to get a few more of them but I may have to pick up some 1973 Rangers as well.

Of the 1973s I’m pleased to have a few of the perak-1973 photos ones like the Mike Epstein where it’s not clear who the focus of the card is supposed to be on. Such a weird set this was with bizarre photos like the Epstein and then fantastic ones like Vida Blue’s or Ken Singleton’s.

As always I love seeing Candlestick creep into the background of cards so the Jimmy Wynn makes me particularly happy. And speaking of backgrounds good lord that George Scott is a disaster.

The 1974s are also fun. Wynn’s card is again at The Stick. As is JR Richard’s first solo card. I love the Frank Robbinson and that Concepcion is some peak 1970s action photography that looks like it was shot using a 200mm lens when a 400mm or longer was what was needed. It doesn’t work as well on the 1974 design as it does on the 1971. As much as I dislike facsimile signatures, they are a great way of dealing with all that empty space.

To 1975 and I was very happy to find a handful of minis. I love these no matter who they depict but the Charlie Hough is my favorite here. The regular 1975s are also great with two Hall of Famers plus a Bay Area legend.

The crazy colors in 1975 have been growing on me. I can’t say that I like them in general but I have found myself liking them more when the colors work for the team in question. So the red/blue combination on the Dodgers* or the yellow/green on the A’s is great. Orange/Brown for the Orioles is also close enough. Heck the Cyan text on the red baqckground for the Phillies also works.

*Jim Brewer’s card is another Candlestick photo too.

And back the the Charlie Hough, while the yellow and green are not Dodgers colors, I suspect that the best-looking cards in this set are all taken at Dodger Stadium since the colors of the stands end up working with whatever the border colors are.

Some nice star power in the 1976s with Nolan Ryan, Steve Carlton, and Phil Niekro* as well as two team cards featuring Hall of Fame managers. 1976 is a great set. Good photos. Nice colors. Clean fun design. I think it’s my favorite of the decade now.

*Hello Candlestick!

The 1977 Nolan Ryan recordbreaker is great but in this batch it’s the oddballs which steal the show. I’m extremely unfamiliar with both Hostess and Kellogg’s releases. They predate my previous collecting experience so just getting one here or there is a treat even if they’re off grade.

The Hostess, Kellogg’s, and Pepsi disc were the only 1970s oddballs but Nick also included a bunch of more-recent oddballs as well. these are a ton of fun.

The samples from early-80s greatest-players sets reminds me of how much I learned about the sport from these cards (something we’re sadly missing today which makes it harder for my sons’ generation to learn about the game)/

The Burger King minor league card is great. Star Stickers are one of my favorite things. I love the handful of cards from those ubiquitous retail boxed sets that I could never get enough of but convinced myself to stop buying since they weren’t worth anything.* Sportflics!

*Seriously those 33 or 44 card sets (one third or one fourth of a standard 132-card sheet) were everywhere and usually only cost a couple bucks. I should never have let myself get talked into thinking they were a waste of time. Aside from being a wonderful slice of who the biggest players and rookies in the game were, they also provide a window into what companies and logos were in existence at the time. Looking at them now is as much a time capsule into the retail experience of the day without even considering the baseball stuff.

The two super-generic Post cards featuring players who are distinct in the history of the game are my favorites here though. I don’t think we’ll ever see another player like either Jim Abbott or Bo Jackson.

Finishing up the oddballs. Collect-a-books are the best is a total junk kind of way. I know a lot of guys toss them now but I feel like I should get a lot and give them to my kids. I’m kind of faxinated by how they’re made too.

The McDonals Jim Abbott is tons of fun. As is the glow-in-the-dark Jeff Bagwell aard/sticker. SI for Kids is also always nice to see. I didn’t have a subscription and never collected much of those cards and I feel like I totally missed out now.

Three Canadian issues are great. I love the 85 Leaf design which replaces the Donross logo with a literal leaf. OPC on the other hand is always a nice reminder at how white card stock looks so much better than the regular grey that Topps used.

And three Panini stickers round out the stack here. These at least are card-sized though I never know exactly how to treat them.

Into the more-specific collections now. Three action-related cards, all of which are most welcome and all of which are awesome in their own ways

Two Brewers which finish my 2017 Update set. Thanks! This is the first set I’ve hand-collated and sort of celebrates my first year back in the hobby.

And a bunch of silly photos which I don’t think are supposed to hit any of my collections but which I admit are a the kind of cards that are hard to not want to keep. I miss this kind of fun on cards and I’m surprised that none of these are Fleer since this used to be Fleer’s bread and butter.

The next batch is a bunch of random oddballs and inserts. Some of these I think are intended to fit with my expansion and moves project and feature teams that no longer exist (same with the all-time greats cards). Others are a mish mash of fun stuff. A appreciate that the announcer cards are all former players and the Bull Durham and Sandlot cards are pretty enjoyable.

Most of the rest of the box was filled with Giants. A few 1980s ones including a fantastic Revco oddball, an equally awesome Circle K Orlando Cepeda, my first 1987 Leaf, Baseball Hall of Shame cards,* and a half of the Giants 1987 Opening Day lineup.

*Loved these books when I was a kid. Never knew there were cards of the events in them.

The 1990 Classic Gary Carter is peak 1990 and the 191 Donruss Rookies look really weird compared to the regular 1991 Donruss design.

Into the 1990s with three Sporting News Charles Conlon cards. I love the photography on this set. I kind of wish the set design were a little bit nicer though. I’ve not much new to say about the rest of the cards except to point out that that chrome card of the New York Giants is from a Phil Rizutto set and looks really really weird. I’m not sure who thought chrome was a good idea for old-timey photography* but it rarely looks good.

*Yes I know tintypes and daguerrotypes do actually shine when they’re new.

To the 2000s now. A few placeholder reprints for cards I’m unlikely to every acquire are nice.I kind of like that Upper Deck Playball design. That I enjoy seeing cards from the 2002 playoffs suggests that I’m finally over that loss.

The 2006 refracter Jason Schmidt is sure something. I know a lot of collectors love this kind of thing but it falls into the category of “glad I have one; not gonna search for another now” for me.

2008 Opening Day looks really weird to me with that red background. I actually like the circus ball design when they’re colored. I really don’y like it here. 2009 O-Pee-Chee is a nice-looking throwback-feeling set even when it’s got a black border variant.

The Christy Mathewson mini will look great in my page of minis. I’ve been slowly accumulating various tobacco-sized mini cards and instead of keeping them mixed in by year with the rest of the cards, I’ve been putting them together in one 20-pocket page The whole batch is a lot of fun to look at all together.

Another mini which I think will push me over the 20-card mark and onto a second page. I really like the Pablo Sandoval Venezuela card. The Matt Cain rookie reprint confused the hell out of me and is one of the worst things Topps has ever printed.

The two Panini cards are both nice. Hometown Heroes is a fun set and the Carl Hubbell Cooperstown is one of the few sets which allow kids to learn about players from the past.

The Buster Posey 1972 mini is better than it has any right to be. The 1972 design has enough going on that seems to do well with all kinds of photos. And the Madison Bumgarner Stadium Club is one of the better Bumgarner cards Topps has produced. Topps seems to love using the worst photos of him on cards and I’m not at all surprised that he’s opted out of the contract now.

I kind of like Panini Golden Age too. It’s always nice to see Jim Thorpe on a card. I love the Monte Irvin and Marco Scutaro Stadium Club cards. The three 2016 Topps Update cards almost finish my Giants team set.

Into 2017 with a Mark Melancon Stadium Club that I needed for my set build as well as a Johnny Cueto insert. I actually like the 2017 Allen & Ginter design and Willie McCovey looks great in it. I’m not so keen on the colorized Monte Irvin Archives photo but the photo itself with all those bats is wonderful. I also typically don’t like how Topps does the 1960 desig because it never fully-justifies the player name so I’m very happy that Brandon Crawford’s name is so long that Topps had no choice but to fill the entire space.

The Willie McCovey Topps Fire is nice to add as an example of the set. I’m very happy to have the Brandon Crawford National Baseball Card Day card. And I really like the 1983-designed Donruss cards.

On to 2018 with a fun gold parallel of Brandon Crawford and a bunch of Chrome, Archives, Ginter, Heritage, and Big League. Not much to say here except to note that I was tickled to see Topps had chosen the same photo for Ty Blach that I did for my GiantsNow set.

And finally more 2018s with a bunch of Gypsy Queen as well as some Panini and Donruss. I’ve already covered the weirdness in how Gypsy Queen was printed* as well as my reaction to Diamond Kings but these are some of the first regular Donruss cards I’ve gotten. I’ve never loved the 1984 design as much as others but I have to admit that it’s fun for me to see it come back like this.

*I should probably do a scan and post about this.

Moving on from the Giants. There were also a few “hits” in the box as well. The two autos from 2018 products—Víctor Arano on Topps Fire and Zack Cozart on Flagship—are the most fun. Even though they’re stickers these are at least decent signatures. The Brandon Shipley autographed relic tends a bit toward the generic with the plain black cloth, stickergraph and logoless photo not really adding up to the most cempelling card.

The other two relics fare better. The Fu-Te Ni World Baseball Classic card is a nice design with the World Baseball Classic logo really lending itself to a nice colorful card. And the Mike Lowell actually looks like it’s been used. I often chuckle at people who get excited about seeing a pinstripe or something in their swatch but I have to admit that compared to a plain-white swatch the pinstripe at least feels like it’s from a uniform.

The Buster Posey manufactured relic meanwhile is a beast of an item with a hefty slug of metal in it. I still don’t get the point of these but I’d love to see a video about how they’re made.

Deep breath.

That still was not all. Besides all the random cards in the box there was another box of cards. Nick included the complete 50-card Topps Stadium Club Charter Member set. It’a a wonderful slice of the sports zeitgeist in 1990 and 1991. While being heavily weighted toward baseball* there are football and hockey highlights and award winners as well.

*32 cards compared to 9 each for football and hockey. I guess Topps didn’t have a basketball license these years.

It’s a fun set to look through and takes me right back to being in junior high when all these players were the guys we wanted to collect and Stadium Club was the most desirable set in town. Unlike a lot of the Stadium Club baseball set, these photos have aged a bit better although Topps clearly had problems with hockey photos and getting the right color temperature.

The backs are the always-fun newspaper format. If I were to do highlights for my Giants set next season I’d very much consider aping this kind of thing. It‘s a great way to instantly trigger that date-specific feeling. These backs are also interesting in that there’s no set numbering. I chose to order the cards by date so as to best capture the sense of the sporting year.

Very very cool stuff Nick. May your dimebox searches continue to be as fruitful as they have been in the past years. And may your dad maintain his amazing midas touch in finding cardboard bargains. Thanks so much for sharing just a slice of the goodness you come across and good luck with the next seven years of blogging.

Author: Nick Vossbrink

Blogging about Photography, Museums, Printing, and Baseball Cards from both Princeton New Jersey and the San Francisco Bay Area. On Twitter as @vossbrink, WordPress at njwv.wordpress.com, and the web at vossbrink.net

9 thoughts on “Dimebox Winnings”

  1. Glad you enjoyed everything! Happy to see the box go to someone who can truly appreciate them.

    I also read the Hall of Shame books religiously growing up — I still have the same copies I had as a kid, so overdone with wear that the pages are literally falling apart from the binding. Never knew there were supplemental cards of them till recently, though.

    1. Mine are falling apart as well but it didn’t stop my son from picking them up and reading them last summer when he visited my parents.

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