Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Got People Beggin' For My Top 9 Spaces

That post title is a reference to both MySpace and a "Weird Al" Yankovic parody from 2003... that should tell you just how timely of a person I am.

Speaking of timely, a little more than a week ago, The Junior Junkie challenged the entire blogosphere to create their own "desert island" page. The idea - take you best nine cards (however you would define them as such) and put together your Top 9. Since I was still on hiatus when he called us out, I'm a little late to the party.

However, I still really wanted to try this out. The problem, as I noticed pretty much everyone ran into, was how to define my "best" cards. Do I use my cards with the most monetary value? The most visually appealing? The ones with the most sentimental value?

Being that the theory is that I'm stuck on a desert island with nothing but a page of baseball cards, I chose sentimentality. After all, I'll probably need a pick me up, being that that this a pretty desolate situation and I don't think cards with a high Beckett value will help me barter with the local wildlife.

Without further ado, here is my own "best binder page:"

Now, I actually went ahead and physically put these cards all into the page itself - because I'm special like that and wanted to go the extra mile.

Well, ok, not ALL of them. The card in the very first pocket is currently escaping me and I can't find it for the life of me. I will track it down eventually; but, in the interim, I had to settle for Photoshopping a random Ebay scan... sue me.

Let's break this thing down:

1) 1994 Post #19 - Mark Whiten

Wait - so the die-hard Cubs fan with an inherent dislike for Cardinals has a Redbird in the first spot of his top 9? Let me explain.

This here is the very first baseball card that I remember having. It's appropriate that the scan that I borrowed has the line through it because my real life copy has a giant crease right about there. When I was 5 or 6, I decided my brithday party was going to be baseball-themed and each invitation would have a baseball card on it. So, this was taped onto a piece of construction paper, folded up and then I promptly forgot about the idea.

Obviously I went back and retrieved it later and, thus, I still have my first baseball card... somewhere in this damn house.

2)  2014 Stubbly Bubbly #4 - Jophery Brown

The second spot goes to a custom - an expertly crafted custom from the legendary Stubby. This particular piece honors one interesting fellow: professional baseball player, actor and pioneering Hollywood stunt-man Jophery Brown. After his arm quit on him, he decided to blaze trails for African-Americans in the film industry - no big deal or anything.

This card came in my very first, blog-induced trade and that alone makes it worth inclusion to me. That someone would read my ramblings and feel compelled to offer me cards that I need (even crafting one of his own) would give me hope while stranded Castaway style.

3) 2015 Topps Archives Can Favorite Autographs #FFA-MGR - Mark Grace

As I've mentioned several times over the course of this blog's existence, I am a child of the 90's. As such, I have a dogged loyalty to Ryne Sandberg, Sammy Sosa and Mark Grace. Any card of theirs is always welcome in my collection.

So, when I uncharacteristically decided to drop big money (in my cheap-ass opinion) on a blaster of Archives earlier this year, I was absolutely ecstatic to pull this card. How very rare it is for me to pull a hit, let alone a hit of the team which I collect AND one of my all-time favorite players. This card alone was enough to resurrect this blog out of one of my patented unannounced hiatuses.

This is the sort of excitement I'll need to keep me from going Lord of the Flies crazy.

4) 1985 Topps Collectors' Series #3 - Ernie Banks

While I was a child of the 90's, my grandfather came along a little bit earlier. His guys were more of the Billy Williams, Fergie Jenkins, Ernie Banks variety. Since he was the one who funded my first forays into baseball card collecting, his tastes guided my way.

The first time I ever stepped foot into a card shop (circa 1995), he gifted me with a 500 ct box of assorted baseball product and picked this big-money card, encased in plastic, off of the wall for me. I'll always remember him telling me that I had to take care of this because Ernie was the best player in Chicago history and this card would be worth something someday.

Of course, somewhere along the line, I lost it. However, I was able to find another copy in a discount box a few years ago... funny how the world changes, isn't it?

5) 2014 BBM Yokohama DeNA BayStars #DB79

I've been fascinated by far away and exotic places since I was a wee boy sitting in my Geography class with nothing but time to daydream. What would it be like to visit foreign lands like Venezuela, Taiwan, Japan or, heck, even Canada. A mid-western boy can dream, right?

Well, fast-forward to 2015 and I still haven't traveled out of the country. But, in substitute, I can admire all of the exotic and foreign baseball cards that I've accumulated from these countries. This particular one just happens to be my favorite, seeing as Hisanori was briefly a Cub and I've sort of adopted Yokohama as my favorite Japanese team. The latter mostly because I found a shirt in a Joliet thrift shop.

All that said, if I'm stuck on a deserted island, I can only assume it was while attempting to finally see the world - so, I've got that going for me, at least.

6) 1985 Topps #668 - Steve Trout (autographed)

I'm usually not much of an autograph hound; however, when I heard that my local, independent league team (Windy City Thunderbolts) had the signed former Cub rotation stalwart to be their pitching coach, I knew I had to make an exception.

So, during pre-game warmups of the next game I attended, this wiry, awkward-looking freshman and his kid brother weaved through the rows of seats to stand just above the bullpen. Steve happily obliged our request and I was happy as a clam. While I was basking in the moment, my brother turned and kicked over a very inebriated man's $6 beer. In the immmortal words of Scooby-Doo, ruh-roh!

He was so drunk that he was willing to fight a 14 year old, so we turned around and hightailed out of that section; but, I'll be damned if I don't still give my brother hell to this day for almost getting my ass kicked. I had to face certain death (or something like that) to get this card, it's coming with me to my island.

7) 2013 Topps Heavy Metal Autographs #HMA-AR - Axl Rose

Still the absolute best thing I've ever pulled from a pack of cards, even better than the aforementioned Gracie. This card (well, the redemption, anyway) came out of an impulse buy of a singular pack of Heritage (or did these come in Archives?). A notoriously bad signer and reclusive human being, Axl's autograph is not particularly easy to obtain.

But, despite it's inherent monetary value, this card represents a combination of two my passions - trading cards and music. I roll my eyes whenever I hear someone overly-emotional teen say that music saved their life; but, music certainly does make life a whole lot easier to live.

And, if I can't have a damn IPod or something on my desert island, I guess this will have to do.

8) 1914 Polo Grounds Game - Larry Cheney

My parents raised me to have an appreciation for what came before me. "Learn from the past or we are doomed to repeat it" and all the jazz.

Thus, I evolved into a bit of a history nerd and my initial major in college was History (I kept it as a minor). This meshes well with my passion for baseball; after all, what sport respects it's history more than America's pastime.

I love when I'm able to find antique baseball cards for reasonable prices. So, when I was able to land this beauty for less than $5, I was over the moon. Larry Cheney wasn't a very significant player; but, look at that beautiful panorama of the Polo Grounds and it feels pretty cool to hold a slip of paper older than my grandparents.

For this challenge, I wanted to pick one of my super-vintage cards and this one won. The deciding factor was that it's my only such card in "standard" size and my best binder page needs to be aesthetically pleasing too. OCD doesn't cease for desert islands y'know.

9) 1973 Topps #115 - Ron Santo

This is a man that needs to introduction. Yes, that is his in-person autograph and it's my absolute favorite card in my collection.  That's why I saved it for last.

It was a gift from my health teacher in freshman year of high school. Her friend was a hair stylist in the Mesa area who did a little (emphasis on a little, he was famous for his toupee) work for Ronnie and my teacher was able to acquire this for me after I noted that he was my hero.

That act of kindness left an impression on that teenage wallflower.  She obviously did not have to go out of her way to make this kid's day; but, she did.  I'll need to remember special moments like that from my past as I'm trapped in the present.

I'm likely to be driven crazy - but, it's not a very long drive either.
Image courtesy of  Baloo and Toon Pool

And there you have it, my desert island, best binder page.  All nine of my favorite and most sentimentally valuable cards together in one place.  I hope you enjoyed reading about it as much as I did putting it all together.

So, what would your strategy be for putting one of these together?  Would you be like me and get all gushy and sort by your feelings?  Or, would you chose the cards with the most monetary value or most visual appeal?

In closing, here's "Weird Al's" classic send-up of Chamillionare because it's been stuck in my head since I began drafting this post.  Your welcome.


  1. I've been noodling on this idea for about a week now...I go back and forth and have included or excluded like 50 cards already...

    1. I purposely kept myself from thinking about it too long - I went entirely on gut and instinct. Otherwise, I too would still be pondering.

  2. Nice page!

    Those Heavy Metal autographs came from 2013 Topps Archives. I am waiting on a Real Heavy Metal Autograph redemption (printed on actual metal, allegedly) of Whitesnake/Winger guitarist Reb Beach. I imagine I will eventually need to request a replacement from Topps for it. I also pack-pulled a Bobbie Brown (music video model) Heavy Metal Autograph. Axl Rose is a much much bigger hit than either of those. If I recall right, the Rose auto was THE big hit from that product.

    1. Whenever I hear about Winger, I'm always reminded of Stewart from Beavis & Butthead. Still, they had a few good songs.

  3. A Cardinal? Seriously?
    After reading your write-up though I'll give you a pass, but just this once. You better walk the straight and narrow from here on out! :)

    1. I solemnly swear that I'm no longer up to no-good!

  4. A nice selection of cards, I was disappointed to find that the Jophery Brown card wasn't one I could get on COMC. :-(

    "White And Nerdy" came up on my iPod during my drive home, and then I pull up this post and see it again. I think that each time I see the video, I say "Oh, I forgot that it's Key & Peele in the car at the beginning".

    ...and of course, after watching White & Nerdy I have to watch Eat It, then Smells Like Nirvana, then...

    1. Yea, that's the downside of showing off cool customs like Jophery (I love that name!), disappointing those who'd like one of their own. Whoops.

      I just realized that was Key & Peele a couple months ago and that absolutely blew my mind. I can't believe I never noticed that before.

      Also, I can think of many many many worse ways to spend a few hours on the internet than falling down the Weird Al rabbit hole! Don't forget Amish Paradise and The Saga Begins and Dare To Be Stupid and...

  5. I have to get my butt in gear and do this nine-pocket challenge already. Mr. Cub would definitely be a part of my page (his '65 Topps card, to be specific).

    1. At least one Ernie is almost mandatory for every Northside fan!

  6. Great page! Love the story behind every card!

  7. That Polo Grpounds card is the shite.
    And under $5...awesome.

    1. PS Tony, you can find my email address on my profile on ATBATT.
      Shoot me your addy in an email, as I may have some cards to send your way.