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Slipping through the cracks

When you've been doing this for as long as I have -- collecting, trading, blogging -- you tend to activate your automatic filter when going through a package of cards in the mail.

This is especially true if it's a larger envelope with plenty of cards.

Your brain automatically switches to "GOT THESE" mode when a familiar design comes into view. It's more of a time-saving device than anything. Let's get the unnecessaries out of the way so we can focus on the good stuff. So, for example, a selection of 1991 Score Dodgers appear in the team bag and I start filtering, without even thinking:

"Got it, got it, got it, got it, got it, got it, got it, got it." My brain flips past the cards as quickly as my fingers. These cards, that set, is well-tread territory. No need for these.

And so it goes for a veteran team collector, trader and blogger. 1994 Topps? Got it, got it, got it, got it, got it. 2009 Upper Deck? Got it, got it, got it, got it, got 'em all. 1986 Donruss? Got it, got it, got it, got it, got these.

2005 Topps? Got it, got it, got it, got it, got it, got ... hmmmmmm.

My brain didn't recognize this card.

As I'm flipping through cards from a new envelope, I usually separate the gots from the needs by stacking the gots face-down in a separate pile. The needs are face up. Then there are the "I don't knows." They go face down but in the "face-up" stack. Got it?

Jose Hernandez, which showed up in another generous selection of cards from Johnny's Trading Spot, landed in the "I don't know" category, face-down, in the face-up needs stack.

And that card gnawed at me. I was sure I had completed the 2005 Topps Dodgers team set a long time ago. All of the flagship sets from the 21st century had been in my arsenal for a long time. I thought.

But when I finally settled up the face-up cards, face-down cards and "I don't knows," which I do before every trade post, I discovered, while going through the binders, that this Jose Hernandez card was missing from my 2005 Topps Dodgers.

It wasn't there.

My 2005 Topps team set had been incomplete all this time.


Another card that had slipped through the cracks.

But really this is what you want from a trade envelope. You want cards you need. You hope that they are cards that you know you need and don't reveal weaknesses in your collection (Ah-HA! You really did NOT complete the 2005 Topps team set!). But cards like the '05 Topps Jose Hernandez are actually a good thing, even though it makes you question just about every complete team set in your collection.

So let's see what other cards from Johnny's Trading Spot slipped through the cracks.

A 2017 Museum card of Clayton Kershaw. I had the gold parallel. Not the base card.

✔ Slipped through the cracks.

A 1996 Leaf All-Star MVP Contenders card of Raul Mondesi. I have completed (I think) all of the '96 Leaf Dodgers, but I had no idea about this insert.

✔ Slipped through the cracks.

A 2004 Playoff Prestige Changing Stripes Shawn Green card. Come on, what Dodger collector doesn't have every last Blue Jays-to-Dodgers Shawn Green card?

I don't, apparently.

✔ Slipped through the cracks.

I was feeling pretty satisfied with myself for polishing off this year's Opening Day Dodgers.

But nope.

This Jansen card:

✔ Slipped through the cracks.

At last, the 2019 Topps Max Muncy card.

✔ Slipped through the cracks.

Or, more accurately, Topps let Max Muncy slip through the cracks since this is his first flagship card.

Muncy was part of a small smattering of 2019 Series 2 Dodgers in this trade package.

I guess if you're going to put a Giant on a Dodger card, it should be Andrew McCutchen's brief, unfortunate period with the San Francisco Pumpkins.

A couple of parallels that I knew I needed.

This I knew was a need, too. I absolutely love getting Walker Buehler college cards these days. I've owned a few of his Vanderbilt cards already, back before anyone knew he was going to be good. Now I look at those cards and think, "if you San Diego Padres only knew what was waiting for you ..."

Ah, the early 2000s and their all-Asian inserts.

The next group of cards I had a pretty good handle on ahead of receiving them.

O-Pee-Chee arrivals are relatively rare and I cherish most of them so well that I know exactly what's needed. I own most of the '78 OPC Dodgers already so this didn't crack my collection but these '79s all did!

That includes this bit of greatness.

I consider the OPC sets, beginning with 1979 and traveling into the '80s as some of the best because evidence of the OPC brand is right on the front of every card. The Dave Lopes card in particular is swimming in French writing. (There's also a written number in the corner, perhaps evaluating Lopes' performance on the balance beam? I don't know.)

The Mark Belanger '82 OPC is straight-on beautiful. Gorgeous. It makes me forget how annoyed I was when the Dodgers signed his no-bat ass.

More Canada cards from Johnny. All of these Leafs were needs. No doubt about it.

Getting "slip-through-the-cracks" cards are fun, even if they do sometimes cause a mild level of distress. Needs that you didn't know were needs are part of the series of surprise moments that make this hobby interesting. As I've mentioned many times, I still open packs because of the surprise element. And cards that you didn't know were needs fall under that heading, too.

It's additional fun in a fun hobby.


Super glad you found some needs. I do the same thing when I get Braves cards in, got it got it got it, except I still actually check and often find many have slipped through the cracks. Happens every month.
Jeremya1um said…
Glad you found some keepers and didn’t let any you needed slip into the dupes box. I don’t know how you do it with so many cards. I probably have 2 binders of Rays cards and I’m a lot like you. I put ones I know for certain I have upside down, and ones I’m not sure about I just put in my pile to put in the binder, and then when I actually do, I may end up with some doubles at the end, but many times, I will end up with a card I thought I had, but that I actually needed.
BaseSetCalling said…
I wonder how many baseball trades have ever happened on Christmas Eve?
Once a Cub said…
In the spirit of this post, I'm pretty sure I already have a couple of Chad Fonville cards in my Ivy collection but that top card doesn't look familiar. Geez, did he play all his games at Wrigley?

It's going on my list.

Billy Kingsley said…
Even though I keep very detailed records, this still happens for me from time to time... usually more modern stuff which I am not as familiar with.

But I'm much more likely to think a card is new when it's actually a duplicate. It's easy enough to check but it can be frustrating if you are buying singles.
Alan Deakins said…
I bought a 1957 Topps card I already had a couple of weeks ago.... I have bought doubles of the 1955 Bowman set I am trying to complete too by accident I totally identify with this post
Fuji said…
I used to use the "got it" filter... but these days my memory sucks, so I just flip through them and enjoy the cards as if they're all brand new. Well... unless they're 1988 Topps. Then I know I have them.
Jeremy said…
That's definitely a wide selection of Dodgers cards from all eras. My blog is at if you are willing to add me to your blogroll.

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