Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Jeff, You're Un-Belieb-able.

If you've been paying attention to my humble little baseball card blog for any substantial amount of time, you must have noticed that I'm a rather big fan of Mark Grace.  As a kid who grew up in Chicago in the 1990's, it was pretty much inevitable that I'd take a shine to guys like Grace, Sandberg and Sosa - guys that were often the sole bright spots on otherwise disappointed Northside squads.

Above all though, Grace was my number one.  First of all, Grace is a pretty cool name and, being that I was a kid, that immediately drew me in; then, I came to realize that that name was actually quite descriptive of his work in the field.  His acrobatic work at first base was a marvel to watch and, to this day, I'm still a little salty that he was traded away to Arizona.

Gracie?  A Diamondback?  It's been fifteen freakin' years and that still doesn't sound right.  Although, at least he got a World Series ring out of it.

As such, one person who I know has been paying attention is Jeff Jones - the proprietor of the also wonderfully-named blog Wish They Still Came With Bubblegum.  Just the other day, he dropped a total surprise PWE on me that was absolutely stuffed with new-to-me "Amazing Grace's."

Oh, and this thing too:

I recently convinced my sister that every time she sings a lyric to a Justin Bieber song it shaves a year off of Billy Joel's life (she's the world's biggest teenage Joel devout).  With the way rock stars have been dying off lately (Weiland, Lemmy, Bowie, Frey...), she wasn't about to take any chances. Anyway, that should tell you how I feel about the little guy.

While this card will not reside in my collection permanently, I can still appreciate a good joke.  Beware, the next PWE I send out may very well include this "1st Print" Biebs.

Back to the meat and potatoes of this envelope, Jeff enclosed a wide variety of good ol' number 17:

We'll lead off with these awesome Post Cereal oddballs because breakfast is the first and most important meal of the day.  I didn't have any of these particular editions of the Post cards; but, now I have two of the most important ones!

Also, at first glance, that image on the card on the left looked quite familiar to me.  Why is that?

Oh - because it showed up again 25 years later in 2015 Topps Archives on one of my favorite pulls of my card collecting life.  Did Topps have a hand in the production of the Post cards?  If so, gosh Topps, there you go being all lazy and recycling photos again (sarcasm, I don't find this instance particularly egregious).

Meanwhile, let's return our attention to the pride of Winston-Salem, NC that Jeff was responsible for:

We've got shiny Graces...

... and even more shiny Graces.  Unfortunately, it looks like that "Defensive Gems" card was damaged in transit, it broke a quarter of the way free from it's moorings within the PWE.  So it goes, I'm not too picky when it comes to condition; thus, I love it just the same.

Silly Upper Deck, that card would have been totally protected from such damage if they'd just applied a protective sheath like that of Topps Finest.  Amateurs.

Then there's some beautiful shots of "Amazing Grace" showing off exactly how he earned that nickname.  The man was a vacuum and his fellow infielders better still be sending him Christmas cards every year, with all of the errors he kept from being entered into their permanent record.

Especially Shawon Dunston!

How appropriate that the hits leaders for the decade of the 1990's would show up on a baseball card that is so quintessentially 90's.  Loud, clashing colors, utter disregard for traditional design, annoying foil and bizarre effects.  This brand was either designed by someone feeling the effects of a little Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds or a former Pacific employee.  I love everything about this.

Speaking of Pacific:

As we see in these late-period Graces, nobody does loud and abrasive designs better than the cult-favorite, off-beat brand - Pacific.  I mean, just look at that Revolution monstrosity on the left; not even Circa can come close to matching that.  The term gloriously awful comes to mind.

It makes the invincible card to it's immediate right look downright pedestrian in comparison; but, since it's a Pacific card, there's really no such thing as pedestrian:

You really have to hand it to Pacific; in a time where it was almost impossible to keep up with the hundreds of card sets being pumped out year after year, they were striving to innovate and create brands that truly stood out from the crowded field.  Some worked out, some didn't, but you sure can;t say they didn't try.

These beauties closed out the Grace portion of Jeff''s unexpected PWE; however, he did enclose on more bonus card:

Here we have an emotionally-charged shot of Duncan Keith, which appears to have been taken seconds after he scored scored the winning goal in last year's Stanley Cup Final.

Not a bad moment to have encapsulated forever on your trading card, eh?  This'll slot nicely into my blossoming Blackhawks All-Time Roster tome.

Thank you Jeff for your generosity, this PWE was an absolute blast to sort through; in fact, it was an un-Belieb-able good time!  I hope you find the return package to be just as fruitful.


  1. Glad most of them were new, plucked most of those from a huge nickel box sorted by 90s stars at the flea market

  2. Grace is still probably one of my top five favorite guys to collect, and that '97 UD card of his is among his best. That set as a whole is one of the more underrated ones around.