Friday, April 3, 2015

The Best of Friends

Just a quick reminder to enter my Opening Day contest if you haven't already.

Some of the most treasured parts of my collection are the cards I've received from other collectors.  Over the years, I've been lucky enough to meet some fantastic people through collecting, and have been the recipient of some extreme generosity.  No matter how big or small, the cards I've received as gifts mean a little extra to me.

After all, this hobby is a lot less enjoyable without someone to share it with.  And I don't think many people out there could appreciate the mind numbing monotony of the stack of dime cards or an autograph of a guy who played 3 games in the majors quite as well as the terrific online communities I'm a part of.

I received a box in the mail right as I was heading out the door Wednesday from one of my team collector buddies.  It was a heavy medium flat rate, and I figured it was worth running a couple minutes late to take a peek inside.

The box was stuffed with bags and bags of cards, and a beautiful Mitchell and Ness Clemente jersey.

As I started digging through the bags, I saw tons of cards I needed.  No small feat, as my want list seems to shrink with each weekend flea market trip.

But I must have opened the bags in the perfect order.  In the next to last bag, I came across the Freddy Sanchez Chrome press plate above, and this amazing Ralph Kiner bat card.  This is actually my first Kiner relic.  And better yet the photo features him in the awesome 1947 uniform, which I gush endlessly about.

 But the best was saved for last.  At the end of the final bag of cards I opened, there was a stack of about 25 autographs.  To most people, it just looks like a long list of nobodies.  But for a slightly obsessive team collector?  Pure gold.  Because of the sheer obscurity, a lot of the guys are tough autographs
 Better yet, there were quite a few signed and unsigned minor league team cards in the piles.  I love minor league sets, and have been trying to track down the teams sets for each level of Pirates affiliates whenever possible.  A lot of the late 90's and early 00's sets are tough to find.  The Pirates were lacking in big name prospects, so I'm guessing fewer sets sold than some of the clubs with top stars, and now even fewer surface today.
 But the big hitter is at the top of the post.  I had been hunting for Jose Bautista autographs for a while back around 2007 or 2008.  I was a big fan of Bautista's versatility on the diamond, and thought he deserved more of a shot on teams where playing time didn't always make a lot of sense.
 There was a time when the card could easily be had for $4 or $5.  But ever frugal Mark wanted to wait it out, and see if I could save a buck or two down the road.  I think you know how the Joey Bats story went from there.
 So until Wednesday, my lone Bautista auto was a blue refractor that is one of my favorite cards.  But I can't gush enough about how excited I am to have this card in my collection.

These cards will always have a special place in my collection for who they came from even more than what they are.  The relationships I've built in this hobby are what keep it fun for me.  Showing off scans of my latest (and lamest) purchases with people who can relate is a big part of why I have kept collecting for as long as I have.

Hope everyone has a great weekend and a happy Easter.  I'll be splitting the weekend between Kate's parents' on Saturday and mine on Sunday.  It spaces out the food coma, but also keeps me running around all weekend.  Hopefully I can get a couple posts scheduled before then.  The countdown to opening day begins!

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