Monday, February 22, 2010

The fifth dimension

Even though I am a word person, that doesn't mean I don't get along with numbers. I was one of the better students in math through much of school and even got through calculus until they started talking about imaginary numbers. Then things got shaky. I'm a reality kind of guy.

Numbers continue to interest me, although not to the degree of a lot of people out there. I tend to zone out when people get deep into baseball statistics or start going into any type of "formula."

But collecting cards based on a single number? That's fascinating. If you haven't been following Spike Glidden's No. 5 Type Collection blog, in which he documents his wide variety of cards featuring "5" on the back (or sometimes the front), please do. It's always interesting. About my only complaint is every time I go to the blog, I come away humming this. And that's not really his fault.

Besides, Mr. Glidden recently sent me some way cool Dodger cards. Full of love for his fellow collectors, he held a Valentine's Day giveaway. The cards I received were all over the place, from run-of-the-mill last year's Topps to stuff I never knew existed.

And you get to see some of it! It's your lucky day!

I'll start off with a black-bordered OPC card from last year of Randy Wolf. I'm sad to say that Upper Deck won't be issuing OPC this year. For me, that was about the best thing from Upper Deck last year. Fortunately, the stores still have plenty of packs, and yes, I'm still buying them.

This is a super-awesome card of Drysdale from a 1980 TCMA set. I won't pretend to know which set that is, because TCMA issued a ton of sets around this period. The back commemorates the 1959 World Series champion Dodgers team and that's always worth applause.

A 1994 Upper Deck card of the one-and-only Jackie. It has the GM logo in the corner, which means I definitely have no idea what this is. It doesn't help that it comes from a period when I started ignoring cards.

I received several Steve Garvey cards. This one isn't actually a card. I believe it's a sales tag from a baseball glove. But the back, which I should have scanned, features all of his vital stats, so that makes it a card to me.

As you can imagine, several of the cards that Spike sent were No. 5 in the set. Among those were these cards:

This may or may not be the last Nomo card I need from this '96 Collector's Choice Scrapbook insert set. I have four of them. This is No. 5. All insert sets should be no more than five in number. It should be a rule. So I'm going to say, I'm done with this. Prove me wrong.

I am so glad I was not collecting in 1998. Here are three serial-numbered parallels of Sheffield, which only differ in color of foil. It's not nearly as interesting as the Baseball Heroes parallels. In case you're interested, the silver foil is the rarest of the three with "only" 4,399 made.

Someone likes to collect cards of players featuring a lot of bats. Mr. Hodges has nine of them. The "lots of bats" photo seems to be a 1950s trend.

For some reason, card companies like featuring Hodges as No. 5, even though his uniform number was 14. Here is another one from another TCMA set, from 1987, celebrating the '55 Brooklyn Dodgers.

I'm sure all of you know this is the back of the 1989 Topps Orel Hershiser record breaker card. Everyone knows it and has about 15 versions of it in their collection. I know I do.

But how many have this particular front?

That's right, there is no front at all. Just a white piece of cardboard. I've seen plenty of "no-back" cards, but I can't remember too many "no-fronts." It is quite cool in a "polar bear walking in a snowstorm" kind of way.

OK, that does it for the No. 5 cards, but there are two cards left. The first card is one of those cards with the wacky backs.

Those of you who know the 1964 Topps set know that this is the photo used for Willie Davis. Even I know that, although I wasn't born then. I have the card and recognized it right away. I also noted the miscut nature of the card on the bottom right.

That's key, because this is the back of the card:

Not your traditional 1964 back. It advertises the Topps coins set from that year. I asked Spike about this and he said apparently it was cut from a promotional placard that was probably used as an advertisement in stores. It is an awesome card. I love it.

The final card appeals to the history buff in me. It's not a terribly exciting item with four guys standing in a black-and-white photo, surrounded by an electric blue frame.

I don't know what this card is, other than it was printed in 1977. But the great part is it depicts Dodger pitchers Burleigh Grimes, Dazzy Vance, Van Lingle Mungo and Watty Clark during spring training in 1937 in Clearwater, Fla.

Mungo was a pitcher for the Dodgers at the time. The other guys had all retired recently -- Grimes in 1934, Vance in '35 and Clark in '37. The pre-1940s Dodgers don't get a lot of attention, partly because it was so long ago and partly because most of the teams stunk, but it's nice to see four fine pitchers all in one place.

I really did enjoy opening this package. What a great collection of cards. Check out the No. 5 blog. It's like a museum.


  1. You got some nice Daadgas there!!The '94 Robinson was part of a 9 card set given out with test drives at GM dealers. GM was one of the major sponsers of Ken Burns' PBS series "BASEBALL".There was also an 80 card set released with the movie.I'm lucky enough to have both sets!

  2. A 'no front' card. Like you, I've seen some no back cards but never a no front card.

  3. Hey, thanks for your write-up on the site!

    Filling in a couple of gaps, the Drysdale's from the 1980 TCMA 1959 Dodgers set. "Dodger Greats" is from a 1979 set dedicated to Burleigh Grimes and printed by Daniels publishing.

  4. ...and I haven't seen anything authoritative on a 1977/1979 date for the Grimes cards. Might be like SSPC's big set, printed in one year and distributed in another.

  5. Thanks Matthew and BD for the info.