What's this Lou Brock autograph doing here? You'll know in good time, young grasshopper.
A few turns of the calendar ago, during my first blogging year, I picked up a random pack of 2013 Archives from the discount bin of the local Target. It was totally an impulse purchase (that's why the card section is always by the check out, isn't it?) made just to satisfy a sudden pack-ripping urge and all I was hoping for was a Cub or two for my troubles. Little did I know, that scratched itch would lead to the greatest pull of my card collecting career, to date.
Nestled inside that clearanced Archives was a redemption card for a Heavy Metal Autographs insert... and not just any aging rock star either - it was the famously eccentric and reclusive, Axl Rose! Luckily, the notable diva eventually got around to signing these bad boys and I received mine in the mail just a few months later.
As a former radio station intern, disc jockey, station manager, program director and music nut, this random and rare pull blended two of my biggest interests in life - baseball cards and classic rock. Lord knows that Welcome to the Jungle, Paradise City, November Rain, Used to Love Her, etc. were often blasted loud and proud from my college dormitory. Furthermore, Sweet Child O'Mine was a key inclusion on my wife and I's wedding playlist and Slash is still one of my favorite concerts attended in my entire life. Needless to say, it was quite the thrill to nonchalantly end up with the John Hancock of the Guns N' Roses front-man.
As the years rolled by, this card remained a pillar of my otherwise Cub-centric collection; I didn't think there was anyway that Axl would ever hope the Nightrain out of my collection. Then, just last week, Gavin from Baseball Card Breakdown came at me with a trade offer that brought me to my shun-n-n-n-n-n-n-n-n-knees, knees!
Apparently, this is a card that Gavin has secretly admired from afar, biding his time and building his trade coffers. It took three and a half years, but all he needed was just a little patience - the trade offer that came through was one that I simply could not live and let die!
The keystone of this enticing package was the EXTRA, un-circulated Hank Aaron autograph that Gavin had happened into:
Setting aside the fact that he just happened to have an extra Hammerin' Hank laying around, Gavin has long been working on the acquiring the full 2004 Topps Retired checklist; thus, it would make sense that he should have some doubles from the product. While I'm not a Braves collector, there's no way I'm turning down the opportunity to own the signature of the game's greatest slugger... one of the top five or so greatest to ever don a uniform!
However, there was more to the package of enticement than just that shiny, jet-black, inscription.
Might as well toss in another un-circulated, Hall of Fame signature into the mix, this one of the Cubs variety, as first seen at the top of this post. Lou Brock may have earned his fame in St. Louis, but he started out in the Windy City, as this 2005 Topps Retired hit will attest. Unlike this trade with Gavin, that was a damn stupid, infamous transaction.
To be honest, I didn't realize that this upper echelon base thief even had a cert auto in Cubbie Blue - what a pleasant surprise! I must admit, I'm tempted to bust this bad boy out of it's seal so that I can include Lou's ink in my Cubs All-Time Roster Collection... but, I think I'll hold off and keep it encapsulated... for now.
From the Hall of Fame to the Hall of Very Good, we have yet ANOTHER notarized piece of cardboard, courtesy of Dave Kingman. The prodigious slugger appeared in Panini's Notable Nicknames, part of their National Treasures brand, as a member of the "Chicago Baseball Club" and included his moniker of "Kong" in his ink. That fact, combined with the gloriously hideous, powder blue, pajama top uniforms makes up for the fact that this bad boy (numbered /99) is unlicensed.
I tell you what though, when I first held this in my hand, I was surprised to see how thick these cards are... Kingman might even be able to blast a ball onto Kenmore with one of these in place of bat!
Instead of being slipped into my CATRC to represent "Kong," this piece will be displayed prominently on my computer desk... it's way too hefty for a traditional, nine-pocket page.
Gavin also tossed in a football signature as a surprise, something that my Bears All-Time Roster Collection is sorely lacking. David Ball never played in a regular season game for the Monsters of the Midway, but that doesn't mean I will love this 2007 Donruss Classics hit any less.
That did it for the autographed quotient, but this "one in a million" trade package still had plenty of more "fun and games" to play:
Gavin knew that Mark Grace was one of, if not, my favorite player from my childhood days. Thus, he also knew that this double relic from 2005 Donruss Diamond Kings would pique my interest. While I have a Gracie autograph, I do not have any relics of the hit leader of the 90's in my possession. Numbered out of 25, this green and blue beauty with a jersey swatch and bat chip will also accompany "Kong" on my computer desk, for all to see!
Then, Gavin shifted his focus from mega mojo hits that would certainly catch my fancy to targeting specific inclusions on my want-list. His "appetite for destruction" knocked out two names for my CATRC, including one that I'd been chasing for many moons:
Minor league singles are a pain in the butt to find and oftentimes egregiously over-priced on the secondhand market. Thanks to that fact, this pair of short-term Cubbies have successfully dodged me for a while, but Gavin finally tracked them down for me!
Taylor Davis has an MLB card now (2018 Topps Heritage), but when this viral-video sensation got a September call-up last year, only MiLB team-issued cards existed for him. However, since that Heritage single is shared with two other Cubs rookies, I think I still prefer this 2016 Iowa Cubs issue. Gavin won this stare down!
Meanwhile, Mike Sember snuck into just 12 Major League games in 1977 and 78, posting a .375 OBP while playing all around the infield. Unfortunately, the nearby Hammond, IN native never got an extended look in the Bigs and was released to the Blue Jays, where he played out his days as an active player in their farm system in '79.
Sember during his blink and you missed it Cubs tenure.
This 1979 TCMA single from that latter stint was the only time the infielder was immortalized on cardboard, making it a major need for my all-encompassing CATRC binder. I've been chasing it since before I even began Wrigley Roster Jenga and I let out an audible gasp when Gavin dangled this pain in my butt in front of me.
Then, as if all of that wasn't enough, Gavin tossed in another pair of fun surprises to really seal the deal:
To wrap everything up, Gavin included a pair of Slammin' Sammy Sosas as a punctuation mark. The 2004 Donruss Power Alley insert is numbered out of /2500 and the Power Deck CD-ROM immediately jumps to the top of my favorite oddballs of all-time list. That said, it is entirely useless to me, as my home computer doesn't have a working disc drive - womp, womp. Is there anything more late-90's that turning a baseball card into a mini CD? Now, if I could just track down copies of Sammy's 1998 and 1999 "talking" Star Cards, issued by ProTalk and Fanatics...
No "lies" - it's obvious that Gavin wanted this Axl Rose autograph with the burning passion of a thousand suns and who was I to stand in the way of his acquiring a signature he so desperately desired? With the compensation being more than fair, I quickly agreed to this mega-trade and I have no regrets about doing so. The Axl Rose is a phenomenal card, but Gavin wanted it more and it fit in better with his collection anyway. I am just as thrilled to have the bounty that Axl's new owner sent my way!
Thank you for the trade, Gavin - I hope you enjoy that card a lot more than I enjoyed Chinese Democracy!