As such, this year, I resolved that there was no way in bloody hell that I would be missing what should be my favorite "holiday" of the year - free baseball cards, what more could I possibly want out of a day of celebration? So, the night before, I mapped out my plan of attack; with three card shops within half an hour's drive from my base of operations and no other commitments until that evening, I was going to make the most of this glorious event.
But, "the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry," to paraphrase the poet, Robert Burns.
As it turned out, I was only able to make it to two of the three local card shops that I had planned to hit up - the Oak Lawn branch of local chain, The Baseball Card King (top), and Baseball Dreams and Memories in Crestwood (bottom). My intended third target was the New Lennox BBCK location; however, some foot dragging on my part caused me to run out of time and motivation. The wife and I had tickets to catch Kings of Leon later on and there was no way I was going to miss out on that, free baseball cards or not.
Speaking of my wonderful wife, despite only hitting up two shops, I still ended up with three National Baseball Card Day cello packs. Since her hairstylist cancelled her appointment in the eleventh hour, she decided to accompany me to the latter of my two stops. While she does have a blossoming binder of Garbage Pail Kids and Wacky Packages, baseball cards don't have the same gravitational pull on her - as such, I got two for the price of one. She's definitely a keeper.
With that, above you see my National Baseball Card Day haul - well, at least the free pack portion (more on that in a bit).
By the time we got home, I was absolutely jonesing to open these gratis goodies. Each of these three cellophane packets included five cards and the overall checklist for the special set included just one Cub - Kris Bryant - each franchise gets one representative. The Angels' Mike Trout was the "chase card," as it was only available to those who spent at least ten bucks on Topps products in any given store. Seeing as I care not about Los Angeles baseball and I'm a rabid Cubs fan, I didn't drop enough money for a Trout. Pulling the Bryant out of my fifteen chances would be the definition of my success. Let's see how I did, shall we?
Pack One - this one came from the Oak Lawn Baseball Card King. No "Sparkles," but the baseball card gods decided to rub some salt in the wounds with a pair of former Cubs prospects (Archer and Donaldson) who went on to stardom after being traded away by the previous Chicago administration.
Pack Two - this is the pack that I was awarded at Baseball Dreams & Memories in Crestwood. For a while there, this past July, it looked like Justin Verlander just might become a Cub at the trading deadline. Much like my pulling the Cubs' third baseman in this pack of cards, that ultimately did not come to pass.
Pack Three - this is the pack that my wife was given at Baseball Dreams and Memories. We have a second appearance of Mr. Verlander and a card that would certainly fit into the collection of a blogger named Tony. Unfortunately, on that latter point, it turned out to be the wrong Tony. Tony L. (of Off Hiatus Baseball Cards and Collecting the 1980's) - if you would like to claim that Orlando Arcia, it's all yours.
Also, why'd your Brew Crew have to go and trade for Neil Walker? That guy KILLS us.
Ultimately, out of the three packs, I did not end up walking away with the coveted Kris Bryant card. Oh well - them's the breaks, I suppose. It was still quite the thrill rounding up and ripping free packs of baseball cards in the name of a "national holiday." Also, while I didn't open up my wallet for ten bucks worth of Topps product to get the Mike Trout bonus, I did spend a little bit of actual dinero on one pack of cards at my latter stop.
Is it sacrilege to buy football cards on National BASEBALL Card Day?
After his debut performance in the Bears' first preseason game against the Broncos on Thursday night, quaterback of the future Mitchell Trubisky has been the talk of the town. While his drafting has been thoroughly questioned throughout the summer, Mitch went out and completed 18 of 25 throws for 166 yards, with a touchdown pass on his first possession. Whether or not this any that actually means anything, I am going to need a Trubisky card for my Bears All-Time Roster Collection and 2017 Donruss (where he surprisingly appears as the co-cover boy) represents my first chance to grab him in Bears garb.
Instead of Mitchell, the only card which fits my collecting sphere featured a former Monsters of the Midway quarterback. Josh McCown was a Bear 2011-13, mostly backing up Jay Cutler, and appears here as a Cleveland Brown, listed as a New York Jet. There's a lot going on there.
Another card of note featured the offspring of a former Chicago Cub. Pat Mahomes was a journeyman reliever who blew through the Windy City for 16 games in 2002. His son, Patrick Mahomes II, now represents the future for the Kansas City Chiefs, after being drafted in the first round last April.
For a while, I've toyed with the idea of a "Son of a Cub" collection, featuring cards of former Cubs' offspring who otherwise had nothing to do with the Northside franchise. Perhaps I'll hang onto this "Rated Rookie" and look into finding a few similar cards - i.e., Marvell Wynne, Jr. and Keith Kessinger (Don's kid).
We shall see.
In the end, the main reason that I picked up the pack of Donruss is because I needed it to bring my purchase up over the five dollar mark (I really need to get better about carrying some cash). While I was milling about the Crestwood shop, I came across a single card which I had no idea existed and desperately needed for my Cubs All-Time Roster Collection. For fifty cents, there was no way I was going home without this special surprise from the brief, 2009 reboot of O-Pee-Chee:
Luis Vizcaino was a Chicago Cub for all of 3.2 innings (over 4 games) during that dreadful 2009 campaign. The former World Series Champion on the other side of town and veteran reliever was acquired solely so that the Cubs could dump the contract of Jason Marquis onto the Colorado Rockies. GM Jim Hendry needed that money to continue his retool of the team, which was coming off of back-to-back NL Central titles. Ever hear the phrase, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it?" Hendry apparently hadn't.
At any rate, with such a brief Cubs tenure, I didn't think that Luis had ever appeared on a card as a Cub - after all, non-closing relievers hardly ever get any love from the card companies anyway. Lo and behold, eight years later, I discovered that when you assume, you make an ASS of of U and ME.
Despite my ignorance, I was thrilled to make this Cubgrade - everybody just looks so much better in Cubbie Blue.
All in all, that was my full experience with National Baseball Card Day in 2017. In the end, I was able to add a new Cubs card to my collection - however, I can't say that I expected that card to be a 2009 OPC single that I had no clue even existed. Life is just chock full o' surprises, isn't it?
The day might not have gone as scripted, but I'm going to go ahead and declare it a rousing success anyway. I mean, at least I actually got to participate this year!