I think I've said this in fewer words in the last few years, but I think about where the blogosphere is now, and I compare it to where it was when I started reading blogs in late 2008, and...there's so much that's different.
In fall 2008, there was something very homogenized about the clientele. Lots of 30something guys, 40something guys, exploring the medium and not being afraid to go to creative places, at times with the help of some substances. There was very much an undercurrent of 'well this isn't much, but it's mine'. Could you imagine that from most collectors in 2022? Especially the 'this isn't much' part? There was so much humility back then. Not that there isn't now, there still is, but with a lot of the hobby going towards eBay profiting and sites detailing who's the biggest collector of which player or who has all of the cards from x set, there's a lot less of a space to be humble.
And that's what I appreciated about a lot of the early blogs, people like Dinged Corners, 30 Year Old Cardboard, Baseball Dad [and also TribeCards now that you mention it], and, yes, Dayf the Cardboard Junkie, who I will probably be hearing from if my Sixers end up playing his Hawks again this year.
But one of the constants in that time, from that period in 2008 where I was jumping blogrolls and figuring out if I wanted in on it, to now, when I'm posting twice a day and churning out content, is that Night Owl Cards has been there. So the humility of the cardblogosphere will never completely go away.
I've traded with Night Owl in the past, gotten some giveaway stuff, corresponded with him on Twitter. Always positive experiences. Sometimes my inferiority complex does catch up to me, and I find myself going 'well he's this big blogger that everybody knows and he writes for Beckett Vintage, and here I am this small potato after all these years who only posts about tangible cards every so often', and of course that's BS because everyone in the blogosphere is valid and every collector has a right to network and find things in common no matter who you are. But it does reinforce that sense of community as well. You know, here you are, some kid out of south jersey, talking about card design with a journalist and writer from the Buffalo area. All on the same team.
A little while back, Night Owl Cards hit 5,000 posts. A very impressive feat, even without the knowledge that as I write this, I am sitting on 4,588 posts. But, you know, Jared Leto has an Oscar, even mediocre talents can fall into impressive statistics. So obviously I'm glad Night Owl got there. And to commemorate, he introduced a big, sprawling giveaway where he'd both part with 5,000 cards of his own collection and give a bunch of 250 card repacks, the likes of which Fairfield WISHES they could match up to, to the bloggers and contemporaries he's written alongside for all of these years. A worthy feat, one I knew I needed to get in on.
A few days ago, the results arrived on my front step. When I say that the contents of this 250-card package surprised, impressed and amazed me, I am not putting in a hyperbole to coerce viewership. This, like Night Owl himself, is the real deal. So, away we go:
Sifting through the package, I first began to see some things that I assume Night Owl already had a copy of, hence these Dodgers inserts and Panini issues. I somehow still have a soft spot for finding the Topps design reprint inserts in the wild, as they sort of connect back to my bread and butter in customs.
I remember reading that Night Owl was building the 80s Baseball Immortals sets, of which I have a bunch of somewhere in this house. So it was nice to see a few mixed in, including a very smiley Bill Dickey.
I also know for a fact that Night Owl went after the 2013 Panini Hometown Heroes set, a fan favorite of a lot of modern collectors, especially for its underrated checklist subjects. You never see modern cards of Larry Bowl or Oscar Gamble. And, hey, a new McGriff is always gonna work for me.
Though these were random repacks, there were a few cards in here that I assume were tailor made to specific collectors. So there were some Yanks and Phils in this package. I've stayed far away from Topps Fire over the years, mostly due to the superfluousness of the set, but these are all welcome. I like the more stylized later designs, like the 2 2020s on the right.
Yankee inserts I did not have. Most shocking that the 2011 Diamond Duos one didn't come my way eventually.
Stadium Club base. I did not have that Posada, that is pretty damn awesome.
Yanks rookies old and new. Night Owl is the second blogger in the last few months to add an integral Gary Sanchez rookie to my collection. Even if he's in Minneapolis right now, I kinda still root for him. And again, it's the kindness of bloggers who have been singlehandedly contributing to my now-burgeoning Clarke Schmidt collection. It's honestly very cool to currently have both a Yankee pitcher with my first name [Mr. Montgomery] and a Yankee pitcher with my last name [Clarke up there], and they're both doing well. I want Clarke to succeed, and he seems to be on the right track.
And that Ian Kennedy rookie is another reminder that 2008 Upper Deck Timeline is an underrated little trip of a set. You can argue it paved the way for Panini Chronicles.
And some Phillies heroes as well, old and new. Abreu and Thome I grew up watching back when Citizens Bank Park was new. Bohm and Hoskins I'll be watching in a few days when I head back to CBP. That Hoskins rookie Beam Team is pretty awesome.
Owing back to the repack mentality of this package, a slew of modern Topps inserts were in here. Someone, probably me, needs to go back and assess the subjects of Topps' 2010 'Topps 2020' insert set, and see how accurate they were in picking them. Longo made it to 2020, though not as a Ray.
Some surprise early-2010s shiny also appeared, courtesy of underrated turn of the century Yankee Freddy Garcia. I file him in the Javier Vazquez category of just being really good without being a superstar for a while.
Some Topps rookies, including a rare look at Mitch Haniger on the Diamondbacks, and a welcome appearance from Kyle Higashioka, who had better start hitting one of these days.
In addition, some shinier, cooler rookies as well lay in here. I am not sure if the Nasty Nestor multi-K game had happened before Night Owl sent the package, but having a Nestor Cortes Chrome rookie arrive as he was becoming such a Yankee hero was very good timing, and a great sign. And while I came into contact with Villar's 2011 Astros Bowman XRC a few cards shows ago, his zero year Phillies XRC from 2010 Bowman Draft was new to me, and was very much welcome. Of course, a reminder that Villar was a piece of the Roy Oswalt trade.
A few Stadium Club photos that, I believe, were new to me.
As I said earlier, this box was good for giving me cards from products I didn't always go for. For instance, a bunch of Topps Fire, including a pre-Yankee Donaldson.
Some Bowman chrome and regular excerpts, including a non-rookie but still pre-playing Jesse Winker, and a Ryan Howard from the end of his career.
A lot of the Archives cards were ones I already had gotten as part of my set chases, but could now go into my main collection. Roberts' and Spahn's are pretty cool.
Some assorted Heritage stars. I know people have talked about the normalization and downturn of Heritage since it went out of the 50s, but I still like a lot of these sets. I do agree that the fake backgrounds are a bit much.
Some A&G highlights. I don't collect a ton of Allen and Ginter when it's out, so these were pretty cool, especially the HOFers, and the rare instance of Jonathan Lucroy in Anaheim.
A card of reggae royalty Ziggy Marley. I'm certainly not saying no to that.
The package also did highlight a lot of usual repack subjects, like 90s cards. But unlike a lot of repacks, this one had some excellent star selection. Guys I collect, like Lee Smith and Kenny Lofton, great cards of Lou Whitaker and Jim Abbott, and a Pinnacle subset of Jim Edmonds
Some later 80s stuff made an appearance as well, like 1999 Fleer Tradition and 1998 Leaf Rookies and Stars, featuring an always-welcome Wade Boggs Rays card.
Inserts and subsets. That Bo cards is awesome. The Biggio insert also highlights Chuck Knoblauch. That Gwynn Counterparts has Brett Butler on the back.
Yankee inserts. That Mattingly from 96 Lead was new to me, I'm down for that. And that is a very cool Roger Maris insert from the underrated Ted Williams sets.
It was cool to see a few dupes from Night Owl's Musicards set collecting quests in here. Never thought I'd see M.C. Hammer wind up in one of these posts. And hey, Zeppelin in '78 in San Francisco sounds pretty awesome. Especially considering that Neil Innes' Bonzo Dog Band was opening for them. If you're a Monty Python fan, you know how cool that would have been.
I don't even watch Eastbound and Down but I got a chuckle out of this one.
And, of course, there was some 80s action in these repacks. But not just 80s commons. Cool stuff. A Dan Quisenberry card from 1981 Fleer. A Mickey Tettleton ROOKIE from 1985 Fleer.
And lots and lots of oddballs, food issues and extra sets. This was cool, considering I'd done customs of K-Mart Dream Team and Drake's Big Hitters.
And yes, the granddaddy of food issues made an appearance as well. I knew that Night Owl would be throwing some decently-conditioned Kellogg's cards in, so even with that knowledge it was a nice surprise to see a Dave Kingman card from the 1980 set. I haven't acquired as many of these as most collectors, but these are pretty cool.
And yes, there were even cards that might be considered vintage mojo. A 1978 Steve Carlton, even if it's not new to me, is always a welcome pull. Additionally, it's great to find Dave Parker cards out there as well, as he's slowly becoming a collection favorite.
And the big reaction from me came from this one...
I...I think I might have double-taked.
I have found a great deal of 1970s cards, even 1970s rookies. And yet the Jack Morris rookie has eluded me, maybe because I've taken a step back in vintage collecting in the last several years. So seeing this fall in the middle of the giveaway box took me aback. And it's in pretty decent condition as well. Morris I have a lot of respect for as a pure strikeout artist, and as a consistent fireballer. So this was insanely cool, and will go in a nice spot in my collection next to some other similar 70s rookies.
So yeah...so much cool stuff in this giveaway box. Thankful for bloggers like Night Owl who are still at it and still showing their generosity all these years later. I'm also thankful for Night Owl because he still managed to surprise me several times throughout the opening of this box.
This is why I'm still at it, all these years later. For cool stuff like this to come my way. And the pursuit of that feeling will likely leave me at it for a while longer.