Sometimes, the best things in life come in the middle. For example, the creamy center of a Twinkie or an Oreo, the climax of a riveting film, political compromise, or this post in the middle of the work week about my best card-related find in many moons.
I was perusing the aisles of my local Goodwill the other day when I came across a couple of mild-mannered sports card repacks - one baseball and one football. I was bored, so I grabbed them both for some cheap afternoon entertainment; it's rare that my thrift shops get anything in the way of sports cards, so I figured I should capitalize.
Now, the football pack was a dud and, for that matter, so were two-thirds of the baseball bag, as well. However, it was the creamy center of the latter that was surprisingly awesome.
Why's that you ask? Allow me to explain.
As you can see from the initial picture, the pack began with a healthy offering of 2000 Opening Day. Mixed in with that were some Pacific singles from the same year. While I do enjoy these sets and there were a few cards that fit into my collection, this was nothing completely out of the ordinary.
I always forget that Phil Nevin was initially a catcher, well before he was a tardy and panicked acquisition by the Hendry administration to try and replace an injured Derrek Lee at first base. Also, can we just take a moment to appreciate how majestic Jeromy Burnitz's swing was?
The back of the repack was the obligatory brick of early 90's junk - even better, it was some of the junkiest of junk in 1990 Donruss. So. Much. Red.
None of that was of any use to me and probably not of any use to anyone at all.
None of what we've seen so far provided any sort of indication that what was nestled in the middle of this baseball card sandwich would be so tasty:
Que? Where the heck did that come from?
A quick trip to Clyde's Stale Cards (an invaluable resource for oddballs) tells me that this card hails from Taiwan. It was part of the 1997 ProCard CPBL (Chinese Professional Baseball League) Hall of Fame checklist; HOF being something of a misnomer, as it's a set made up entirely of players active in the league during the 1997 season.
This release was amongst the first premium releases unleashed in the country, mimicking Topps Finest with their chrome effect.
So, one is left to wonder, how did this premium rookie card of Chang-Hao Hu of the Chinatrust Whales end up in a Goodwill repack with a boatload of '90 Donruss in Frankfort, IL?
Better yet, how did it end up in said repack with so much company?
On the left, you'll see card #1 in the checklist, Chang-Heng Hsieh of the Uni-President Lions, while, on the right, you'll find Pai-Heng Lin of Brother Elephants. Is it just me, or does that Elephants uniform evoke memories of the We Are Family-era banana yellow uniforms sported by the Pirates for anyone else?
As you might have noticed, these cards are suffering from some surface scratches and Hsieh is a little miscut on the bottom left; but, I think the surprise and novelty factors are going to keep me from being at all disappointed here.
Hey - a couple of guys who's names I can read without any research!
Luis Iglesias played minor league ball on this side of the Pacific for several years in the Cardinals, Phillies and Pirates chains, along with a long stint in the Mexican League and a cameo in the the Independents. However, from 1990 through 1998, the Panamanian emerged as one of the earliest stars in the CPBL (formed in 1990), where he won two home run and RBI titles along the way. He's shown here with the Mercuries Tigers.
Meanwhile, the dude on the right is someone you might recognize, especially if we stylize his name as Sil Campusano. Before his stint playing for the Wei Chuan Dragons, he saw some brief MLB action with the Blue Jays and the Phillies from 1988-91.
Sil as a Big Leaguer
All of this amounted to the strangest discovery in all my time thrift shopping. How in the world did some kid, who apparently only dipped his toe into collecting baseball cards, end up with 5 cards of a premium product from Taiwan?
Frankfort is a little more than a hop, skip and a jump away, after all.
This isn't my first time making an Asian baseball discovery at a local thrift store, or even at Goodwill alone. Last year, I uncovered this at the Joliet location, just a few miles down the road:
Yep, that's a t-shirt supporting the Yokohama (DeNA) Bay Stars of Japan's Central League and it was sitting on the rack in a Joliet thrift shop like THAT was completely normal.
Who is this local fan of Asian baseball?? I must know!!!
Anyway, let this be a lesson to all of us - do not judge a repack by what's on the outside. After all, you just never know what's hiding in the middle of that unassuming grab bag of cardboard goodies. Now, I just need to figure out what I'm going to do with my hidden prizes...
Perhaps it's time to start a small collection of foreign cards that otherwise do not fit into my collections...