Friday, October 1, 2010

What's in the box?

This is what is known as "lowering your expectations." It's a tried and true Night Owl tactic. I have been quite good at this since I was a youngster.

This weekend I am supposed to pick up another box of cards purchased for me at a flea market by my brother-in-law. I'm told it's a big box. I don't know what is in it other than that there are baseball cards and non-baseball cards (that's narrowing it down, huh?). There are no football cards because my brother-in-law removed them for himself. He is a football fan, yet he knows nothing about cards and is under the assumption, as all non-card collectors are, that every card ever made will make them rich.

But I am just as guilty as hopeful anticipation as he is. I can't wait to see what's in the box. Perhaps there is one fool out there who has no idea of the value of 1951 Bowman cards and threw them in a box for public review, and my brother-in-law just happened to be the first one to walk by, and, oh by the way, they were priced dirt cheap.

It could happen.

But it won't. Even if the box is packed with cards from the '50s, I guarantee you that it will also contain at least one 1990 Donruss Felix Jose card. This card is as worthless to me as a box of tissues. Used tissues. I can't tell you how many times I have come across this card in my life. I am shocked that I have only one or two in my collection right now. That has to be because once I burned a brick of them in a ritualistic ceremony so as to render the card impotent and unable to produce. Still, I could throw this very Jose card out right now and another one would materialize at my front door. And I wouldn't be creeped out or anything. I'd just say, "Oh, it's you again. What took you so long?"

But that's the caliber of cards that I expect to be in this box. That would be disappointing, for the part of me that remains thrilled about the idea of this box. The other part of me totally expects it.

So what does the realistic side of me plan to see in this box? I almost guarantee one of these cards will show themselves:

Speaking of 1990 Donruss, I'll bet there is a '90 Donruss Oil Can Boyd card in the box. I like it because Boyd's uniform and glove match the red borders. But this card is notable because it reminds me of calligraphy class.

Don't laugh. It was an elective in junior high. Everyone had to take it. (Why they called it "elective," I don't know). The card reminds me of how we used to write curse words in stylized calligraphy fonts, just because that's what 13-year-olds think is funny. "Oil Can" isn't a curse word -- I don't think -- but it sure looks weird in fancy writing. I expect to be examining the writing again when I pull it from the box.

If there is one set that could vanish off the face of the earth without me ever noticing or missing it, it would be 1990 Fleer. Possibly the dullest mass-produced set of recent times. I have about 200-300 of these cards and I have no idea how I ended up with any of them, except the Dodgers. No idea. None. I can't picture myself willingly acquiring these cards as a rational, thinking adult (I was in my 20s in 1990). And Brian Meyer? Not a clue. So, yeah, this card is definitely in the box.

This card freaks me out. Look at Eric Show's face. He is either about to kill the photographer or he wants you -- the collector -- to know he is coming for you. He will find you and he will do bad things. Show's sad story is well-known so I would not be surprised if there is something behind this stare. Anyway, it's 1989 Bowman and I know people are dying to get rid of '89 Bowman in record numbers, so I expect to see this card and get freaked out again.

There are few card sets that bore me like 1992 Score. I never liked the design or color scheme and instantly lost interest in the cards. This is another set that I have a couple of hundred cards for and I don't know why I was buying them. With sets like this, I'm not even aware of what I am seeing on the card. This is a cool action shot, but for years, I assumed Matt Merullo was the umpire on the card. If I thought about it for a second, I'd know that the ump is Al Clark, a fairly well-known umpire of the time. But I couldn't get interested in the card or the set for a second.

By the way, the guy sliding into home appears to be Pete O'Brien. But I'm not going to look up the play because that would mean I'd have to continue thinking about '92 Score, which will undoubtedly be in this box. You folks who like '92 Score, you can look it up.

Do you think there were Rich Yett collectors in 1989 who, in search of a Yett card, would leaf through wax packs and say, "not Yett," "not Yett," "not Yett," "not Yett," "Yett!!!!!"

Sorry. I amuse myself. And a 1989 Topps Yett will be in this box.

I'm sure there will be many, many other junk wax "surprises" as well.

But maybe I underestimate my brother-in-law. Maybe he really found something great. Maybe the rest of my '56 Topps needs are right there in that box. And tucked between the '56 Snider and the '56 Mays is a 1990 Donruss Felix Jose card.

Stay tuned.


  1. Whenever I find hockey cards at a garage sale, they are 1990s junk that the person wants too much for.

    Case in point: I found some 1991-92 Pro Set Platinum Series 2 hockey cards. About a wax box's worth, but but in stacks of 50 (rubber banded, no less). I thought "Hmmmm...I could use an extra set of these," and was prepared to offer the woman $5 for the box. She told me she wanted $2 per stack(!!!). I told her that I could get an opened box for $5, but that didn't help my case.

  2. For me, it's the 1989 Topps Duane Ward. I've only been at this again since spring and I had at least 10 of those things...

  3. Matt Merullo has a cool story about that card -

    One of my favorite things about doing these interviews is when I get a story like that and it makes a random common more special.

  4. Not Yett, not yett, not yett, not yett, not yett, YETT!!! F-ing hilarious!