Monday, August 8, 2016

Notes from the National- Part One: Inexplicable Things From a Quarter Box

It had been a year since I had been to a card show...and four years since I had been to the National, in Baltimore. I was home, after finishing a two-week job in Pittsburgh, and I was hungry.

And then...the National just happened to be an hour away from me. So...the outcome was inevitable.

With the help from a friend of my dad's, I secured some extra-swanky passes, and wound up driving down to Atlantic City. I was coming to gamble, alright...but not at the casinos.

Needless to say, by sticking with dime boxes, quarter bins and little things, I had a very nice day, snatching up set needs and going with tiny little idiosyncrasies. Over the course of the next few days, we're gonna talk about how I did. And I doubt I'll hold back.

Dime Box #1- Scattered Indulgences-

This one I'm starting off with was actually my last bin of the day. I'm not necessarily going in order, here. Still, this one had a lot of recent inserts, and a lot of other random stuff. I'll say that this Jim Harbaugh First Pitch card from this year is not alone.

There wasn't a great deal of 1990's stuff, really in any of my acquisitions from the National, but I did manage to throw in these four Hall of Famers. The Young at Heart subset is one I've been chasing bit-by-bit for a while now, and the Collector's Choice is a pretty cool Hawk shot.

Since I don't have the cash to chase boxes of Finest each year, I never get a ton of the inserts, so these two were new, and cool, to me. The Tanaka's a take on mid-90's Finest, while the Niekro's a Finest Generations insert.

A few base cards from 2016 Finest- mostly just guys I collect. I am puzzled by the yellow in Greinke's, but I'm not too shaken.

Perspectives is an interesting Topps insert set to talk about- it', but it's a bit odd, especially with the lettering. There is some great photography, but it could be used better in Stadium Club. Still, I nabbed a couple. My favorite here is the A-Gon.

The Draft Picks insert set from this year's Archives was a little better, especially in getting era-specific photos of the players. 2004-era Joe Mauer is a nice one, but I'm pretty excited about Marlins A-Gon and Rays Hamilton.

Another set I didn't bother collecting last year was Archives '52. It had sort of been done before. Again, I just grabbed the guys I collected from the pile, including 3 Yankees and Hunter Pence.

All six of these were inserts from 2015-6 Diamond Kings. Top two are from last year's product, which I did get some of. Bottom 4 were kind of new to me, and I do appreciate the Expressionists ones.

These were inserts from 2016 Donruss, and I'll say that they're a bit closer to the originals than past iterations in the recent future. The Kemp one is my favorite, even if it is hatless.

Speaking of 2016 Donruss, these ones were part of the 82s subset, which is a pretty cool one, especially for the photography- here we get a 'what should have been' from this set, which, while better than past Donruss releases, still isn't great. Two pitchers have bats, and one batter wears no hat. Photography is great here.

Of course, the best part of this dime boxes was the chance for me to track down some of one of my favorite insert sets from this year...

Yep...First Pitch. And I got a BUNCH.
I'll run 'em down one-by-one.
Jeff Tweedy sings for Wilco, a band that is most definitely on my iPod, and a band whose new album I will definitely be buying once it comes out.
Not big on politics, but kind of glad George H.W. Bush is on a card, though I kind of thought he'd be a Rangers fan given his son and all.
JK Simmons was one of the ones I was looking forward to once the set was announced, aside from James Taylor (for my mom). Pretty great one, too.
Nina Agdal I know not only because she's beautiful, but because she rocked an episode of Whose Line last year.
Lea Thompson obviously is a favorite due to Back to the Future.
Kendrick Lamar...I don't listen to his stuff a whole lot, but the card was too good not to pass up at 10 cents.
Same with Tim McGraw. After two weeks in Pittsburgh I'd prefer to stay away from country music for a while, but I'm glad he threw one out, especially because of his former Met papa.
Jim Breuer I knew from Half Baked, his Joe Pesci impression on SNL, and his bitter ranting that he passes off as standup. Also, he's a huge Mets fan and this was a pretty cool one.
Edward Burns has been in everything, pretty much. Glad to see he's a Met fan too.

Of course...the crown jewel of probably one of my favorite lead singers of all time...

That's right. He's a rebel, he's an anarchist, he's the lead singer of Green Day, he's one of my heroes, and he's on a baseball card that I, thankfully, now own. And this one is so damn cool, too. This one came out as Green Day were being inducted into the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame (well deserved, btw), and it's a pretty damn nice one.

The story of this vendor doesn't end at the dime bins. Right next to those were these complete insert sets. I normally don't venture into this territory, but some of them were ones from sets like Heritage and Gypsy Queen from this year, ones I only nabbed base cards from. And they were pretty damned cheap, too. So...three went into the bag.

These three, well wrapped sets, were Then and Now from this year's Heritage, and Glove Stories and Walk-Off Winners from this year's Gypsy Queen. So...I broke them and observed.

Singling this one out because this is one of the few HOF guarantees in the set. Yes, there are some great players in the insert set, but Miguel Cabrera is undoubtedly a Hall of Famer, even years away from his retirement.

Tiny bit of repetition, as per usual, with double Yazs and double Kershaws, but a pretty nice selection here, even though we're away from picking non-Hall-of-Famers like Johnny Podres and Rocky Colavito for the left side. Carlton to Kershaw is probably one of the most apt comparisons, though.

Walk-Off Winners is mostly current players, but these two were some of the few retired highlights- the Robinson looks great in B/W, and the Vizquel is colored exceptionally well.

As usual for GQ, this is a pretty cool, well-filtered set, with the wide-shots being the best part. Highlights include the throwback on Andruw Jones, the bat flip on Hosmer's, the exuberance and context behind Wilmer Flores', the entire team congratulating Kris Bryant, and the fact that I was able to get a Mike Trout card for essentially 20 cents.

Glove Stories is a pretty nice one, as they're all outfield shots, except for Votto and Galvis, and those ones stand out here, though I do applaud the Springer, Pillar and Arenado for looking pretty damned cool.

Quarter Box #1- Revenge of the Incomplete Sets

Because I spent most of my time last year nabbing the set via a blaster, or a renegade JC order, I didn't nab a great deal of 2015 Stadium Club. Well, this box had a whole mess of SC for a quarter a pop. So...I couldn't resist.

A quartet of action shots, which remind me how cool this set was, especially in its filtering. Andrus is probably the standout, but I love the Marte for its simplicity.

Impressive sideways shots. Pujols is probably the highlight, but the Edwin is a great autograph shot, and the Hamilton's a great diving catch card. You could argue that the current Stadium Club has better photography than the originals...keyword 'could'.

Some Hall of Famers. Mariano's is probably the best one here, as it's pretty recent, I think. but the consistent graininess in the others is worth noting.

Some posed Spring Training shots- Zo has the same background as Khris Davis' in the '16 issue. Wil Myers probably has the coolest one, though Evan Gattis' beard would probably disagree.

Andrew Cashner may not be a Padre anymore...but this is still a pretty damned cool card. Just saying.

Subsequent Spring Training 'new uniform' shots. Donaldson, especially for being an MVP, had a great one, though Hanley up against the faux-monster is also a highlight.

The best ones were dugout shots of all kinds, from just watching from the sidelines ones like Jose Fernandez and Adrian Beltre, to celebrations like Jay Bruce and Matt Adams. Plus, Mitch Moreland's has a dramatic presence to it that I wasn't exactly expecting.

Probably the best one from '15 Stadium Club was this one, a final tribute for heavy-hitter Jason Giambi, from behind the backstop with all the emphasis in the world.

The boxes also had some other products, and I did take advantage of some of the 2014 Update, even though there wasn't a lot I needed, except for this rare card of A.J. Pierzynski as a Cardinal.

Though, there was something pretty eye-opening...



Now, maybe the guy putting the bins together didn't really think too hard about it, but those are definitely short prints from 2014 Topps Update. Yes, the Joba Chamberlain I can MAAAYYYBEEE see in a 25 cent box, but...that's Gregory Polanco's rookie. The guy's having a great season and is a huge part of an okay Pirates squad. That is definitely something the guy didn't see. But...I still threw it in and went about my day.

I'll stop there and we'll pick this up tomorrow, but I'll say there is a ton more Stadium Club to come, and a few more dime bins as well.


  1. I think the vendor you bought the GQ/Heritage inserts from is the same guy who sets up at a local show around my neck of the woods. I picked up the Walk-Off Winners and Glove Stories sets off him for the same price a few months back.

    1. Glad to see some Chicago vendors made it out to the East Coast. Was pretty pleased with that vendor, as well.

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