Tuesday, November 12, 2013
A reason to eat my Wheaties
When I was a kid, I drew a line on the breakfast table between the cereals that were edible and the cereals that clearly were not.
On the side of "fun to eat" was Cap'n Crunch, the Monster Trio (Count Chocula, Frankenberry and Boo Berry), Corn Pops, Sugar Smacks (dig 'em), Magically Delicious Lucky Charms, Coo-Coo For Cocoa Puffs, and Fruity and Cocoa Pebbles.
On the side of "that's not food" were dreaded concoctions like Product 19, Rice Krispies, Corn Flakes and Wheaties.
Wheaties was the worst. I refused to eat it.
My brother, though, was a cereal nut. He'd eat just about every brand. He'd willingly get up at 7 a.m. (this is when he was a teenager, mind you) and also willingly pour a big bowl of Product 19.
It was sad.
He'd also eat Wheaties. And claim to like it.
I figured it had to be because of the athletes. Bruce Jenner was on the Wheaties box at that time and it was a huge deal. General Mills had worked long and hard making the connection between its box of dried leaves and becoming a world class athlete. They had suckered lots of kids with this hook and I was watching my brother go down with them.
I, however, would not be swayed.
I tried Wheaties once. Pour milk in a bowl of those things and it was like going out in your backyard in the middle of November after a rainstorm, scooping up a pile of clumped leaves, plopping them in a bowl, scooping them into your mouth and ... good, god, who could go on with this?
Better eat my Wheaties? No way. If that's what it took to be a pro athlete, well sign me up for a desk job. Nothing is worth that.
No, there is only one reason I would eat my Wheaties.
And I'll get to that. It's contained in a package sent to me by Chris of Project '62 (recently revived to display his very cool baseball card mosaics).
This package was a long time coming, but I didn't sweat it because I knew it would be worth the wait.
I'll start with the 1979 Topps.
These eight specific cards got me down to needing just 11 more cards to finish off the set (and another package I received today trimmed it down to six).
I already have a couple people looking to see if they can finish it off, but if you want to join in, here is what's left:
71, 82, 115, 192, 204, 310
If you're not into numbers I believe that's a Mets and Cardinals team card, Nolan Ryan, Thurman Munson, Brian Downing and someone I can't think of off the top of my head.
If you're working on the '79 set yourself, I'm pleased to inform you that Chris didn't stop there. He sent me 250 cards from the set. So I've got lots of starter material. Just say the word.
The other cards in the package were specific items that work nicely with what I collect. You'll see what I mean:
Dodgers, of course.
That Valenzuela is the star of the show. One day all the Fleer boxed Dodgers will be mine. I say that with confidence, which is a rare emotion in the hobby these days.
Miiinnnnnniiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiissssssssssssssssssss!!!!!!! You can tell that Jim Todd is the original by the way he's shoving over the Lineage imitation, which is obviously more narrow (and not as tall).
Parallel Dodgers. I don't know how people do it. All I can pull for gold parallels is Diamondbacks. Although, I broke my streak today (stay tuned tomorrow!)
The finest specimen of a 1977 Topps Thurman Munson that I have seen. I have heard that this card is one of the most difficult in the entire set to get in ideal shape, and that was certainly the case for me.
This card marks my final task for my complete '77 set (until I find something I overlooked before, of course).
Vintage is where it's at with Chris. Hell, vintage is where it's at, period. And if you deal with him, you're going to get vintage, like it or not.
He sent me one of these babies, unexpectedly.
It's a 1971 Topps Scratch-Off of Gomer himself.
I had one of these already but the back half of it (it opens into a scratch-off game) was torn off.
This one has the back intact:
This is how you play the game.
And this is what your card looks like before you play the game and after you play the game:
You see, Chris gave me two versions of the Osteen scratch-off, one scratched and one non (I don't know who in 1971 wasn't scratching these things).
Also, there was something inside one of the Scratch-Off books:
Is that Preacher?
Indeed it is.
This is a 1952 Wheaties card. Ain't dat cool?
You could cut these cards off of the back of a Wheaties box in 1952. Here is an example:
1950s kids got all the good stuff.
These aren't easy to find in great shape because you had to cut them off the box, and I'm sure kids who only had dead leaves cereals like Wheaties to eat at the time were an ornery bunch and took it out on the box.
But as you can see the Roe was cut pretty nicely.
The '52 Wheaties set is prone to fakes, apparently a lot of the cards were counterfeited around 2002. So if I wanted proof that this was "real," I'd have to send it in for grading. I doubt I'll do that though. It certainly looks legitimate. Very old and cardboardy.
Whenever I looked at the back of the box of Wheaties when I was a kid, it was always about how many vitamins were in the cereal and a whole bunch of champion mumbo jumbo. Certainly no cards.
Today I know that cereal really isn't that great for you at all. If you want to be a superstar athlete, better eat your protein and veggies. And have the right genes.
I didn't know that then. But I knew the cereal tasted terrible.
But all Wheaties had to do was put cards on the back like they did in 1952.
I'd be stuffing those wet leaves down like it was Frankenberry.
(P.S.: Wheaties did feature cards on its boxes in 1997. There's a haphazardly cut Mike Piazza out there for my collection, I'm sure).