A few days ago, I came across an old post of Ben Henry's on The Baseball Card Blog. It was posted during the first half of 2008. It was about the insignificance of the relic card.
Yup, relics were officially dull and boring way back then. More than three years ago. Before I even started blogging.
Since that time, I have read probably dozens of posts about how the relic card doesn't matter anymore. I'm not going to argue the point, because from the perspective that many are coming from, they're right, it doesn't matter. The relic card has lost its ability to impress.
But now it has reached a new low. The relic card has become so unimportant that someone like me is now able to accumulate them without trying. Even I, a common variety set collector who does the vast majority of his card shopping with the other peons at the discount department store, has no trouble pulling relics.
Within a two month period this spring, I pulled 11 relic cards. Eleven. I've never come close to that ever. And I wasn't buying any more cards this spring than I always do.
For me, the thrill of pulling a relic is still there. Maybe almost every other collector is jaded, but I still kind of like them. It's not the best kind of pull, but it still sure is fun.
And I hope it still is for you, because here's the thing:
I'm giving most of them away.
Yup, this is the contest. If you hate relic cards, well, then just move on to whatever Panini is doing, or join one of the 32 trillion other contests going on (my timing is spot-on). But for the rest of you, I've got some cards you can win.
It's really a two-part contest. You can win one group of cards for doing almost nothing. But you can win one group of cards AND a second group of cards if a) you can crack my little code, and b) you get lucky.
Let's see some of the relic cards I pulled.
Here is the only that I pulled that is not part of the contest:
Yeah, I know it's a gray swatch and the card is pink. That's part of its charm. Plus, Jim Thome is The Man and he's a heartbeat away from 600 home runs. So this card stays in the nest.
But enough about what you can't have. Here is what you can have.
The first group is up for grabs to anyone who comments on this post. You don't have to advertise this contest. You don't have to follow. All you have to do is just say, "hey," because I like people who are friendly.
I will determine the winner of the Group 1 cards by the random.org routine. The person listed first after FIVE spins of the random wheel, gets all of the Group 1 cards. Here is what they'll win:
1. A bat card of Geoff Jenkins. I couldn't even tell you if Geoff Jenkins is still in the majors. ... Wait, let me check ...
Wow, is my face red. He hasn't played since 2008. But you can have a piece of his bat! (Yay.)
2. An old-timey relic of Juan Gone Gonzalez. That's kind of cool. Unfortunately, the back of the card says that the relic is an authentic piece of pants worn by Gonzalez in an official INDIANS Major League Baseball game.
Upper Deck was so darling, weren't they? I'm not crazy about the "piece of pants" part either, but we're building to a card climax here.
3. A 2011 Heritage card of former Phillie/present National Jayson Werth. I really like the Heritage relics this year. Can't say the same thing for Werth. Haven't liked him since he was a Dodger.
4. A relic card of another ex-Dodger, Paul Konerko. Look at that neat little stripe there. It's hurtin' me to give away this card, but you guys deserve it.
5. A super shiny Bowman Sterling relic of Hanley Ramirez, numbered 50/199. I actually pulled this from one of those junk wax rack packs. Now you know why I was singing its praises for awhile there.
6. A super snazzy Heritage relic of my favorite player, Clayton Kershaw. I know what you're saying, "why would he give away a relic card of his favorite player? He must have two of them or something." And you would be wrong. I actually have three of them. Really.
So, that's Group 1. Again, all you have to do to win those is comment on this here post.
But there is also a Group 2. If you crack the code that I will show below AND you are selected to win the Group 1 cards, then you win both groups. Why am I splitting it up into two groups? I'll explain that later.
Here is what is in Group 2:
1. It's an Ichiro relic!! I never get tired of relic cards of his. They seem to be easy to pull, but I like them all.
2. A bat card of the Impaler. This is a fun card. I like this card because Guerrero is known for flailing his bat all over the place. This, consequently, is a terrific card of him.
3. More jerseyness, this time from T.T. If you're a longtime reader of this blog, you probably remember me saying that Chipper Jones seemed to me to be more destined to be a pro ballplayer than anyone I had known since Cal Ripken Jr. Meet Chipper's successor in this area.
4. This isn't a 2011 card. But I think it's time for it to move on. I still don't mind Granderson, but my objective is to have no Yankee hits in my house, even if they're not pictured as a Yankee. I make exceptions only for the ex-Dodgers (I'm looking directly at you, Russell Martin).
5. OK, this isn't a relic at all. But I thought I'd throw it in. Who would turn their nose up at a 1975 Topps Nolan Ryan? The corners are scuffed, and it's off-center, but if you don't have one, I don't think you'll mind.
And that's Group 2.
So, what must you do to win the cards in Group 2, aside from getting chosen first for the Group 1 cards?
You must ...
That is the code. Each of those letters came from the front of a specific, respective card set of the past 50 years. It is up to you to determine which card set features each letter. There are 29 letters in all, meaning 29 different card sets are represented.
In other words, how much of a Font Freak are you?
Now, I know this might be difficult, so this is what I'm going to do. I'm going to list the answers to each of the letters below. Included will be a handful of sets that ARE NOT included in the code. It is up to you to match each letter with each set while avoiding the few decoy sets listed.
So, for example, if you choose to try to solve the code, you would comment on this post and then list as follows:
C: 2007 Topps; R: 1995 Fleer; A: 1971 Topps, etc., etc., ... all the way to the "L" in "Night Owl."
Sound like fun? Sound like hell? I guess that's up to you to decide. You do not have to solve the code to win the Group 1 cards.
OK, for those of you tackling Group 2 and the code, here is the list of sets from which to choose. Remember, there are a few sets included in here to throw you off, but MOST of them are correct, just in jumbled order:
1. 1993 Topps
2. 2011 Heritage (Rookie Parade)
3. 1991 Swell
4. 1975 Topps
5. 1989 Fleer
6. 1981 Donruss
7. 1982 Topps
8. 2001 Topps
9. 2009 Topps Career Best Legends
10. 1983 Donruss
11. 1972 Topps In Action
12. 1989 Topps Big
13. 2004 Topps
14. 1966 Topps
15. 2008 Documentary
16. 1996 Sportflics
17. 1999 Fleer Ultra
18. 2006 Topps Chrome
19. 1983 Topps
20. 1995 Pinnacle
21. 2005 Topps Chrome
22. 2008 Topps Heritage
23. 1989 Score
24. 1986 Topps
25. 1964 Topps
26. 1997 Topps Stadium Club
27. 1974 Topps
28. 1992 Triple Play
29. 1997 Topps Finest
30. 1987 Topps
31. 2009 Upper Deck Spectrum
32. 1990 Bowman
33. 1988 Topps
34. 1998 Bowman's Best
A few things:
1. I had to blow up the lettering on some cards and decrease it on others, for legibility purposes. I wanted you to be able to read the note! So, don't necessarily go by the size of the letters, although I tried to keep them close to scale.
2. If you know what Dodgers cards look like for certain years, it will help, as some of these letters -- but definitely not the majority -- came from Dodger cards.
3. If I made some sort of mistake in arranging this contest, I reserve the right to change rules or come up with alternate ways of determining a winner. I don't anticipate that happening, but knowing my flakiness, it's possible. But don't get indignant. I mean they're just relics.
4. I have never mailed a ransom note in my life. Just making that clear.
You do not have to be the FIRST person to solve this code. If there are 26 people who solve the code, then they are all eligible to win both groups of cards. The ultimate determiner of the winner -- for Group 1 or Group 2 -- is the random.org selection of the first group of cards. You cannot win the Group 2 cards if you are not selected as the winner for Group 1! Also, if you solve the code and KNOW that you have it absolutely correct, I would appreciate you not saying something to that effect in your comment. Let others solve for themselves. Of course, if 17 people comment with the same pattern, it might make sense to comment with the same thing. There's my pro tip.
You are allowed to comment only once, EXCEPT ... if you want to comment to enter the Group 1 contest, and then wait until you think you've solved the Group 2 code and comment separately with your Group 2 answer, by all means, please do so. But I will not take multiple guesses from one person on the Group 2 contest. (And if you create a separate online identity for the purpose of entering Group 2 more than once, then I really hope you are getting the therapy that you need).
OK, there you are. Happy coding!
Now, I completely understand if you don't want to tackle this. Lord knows, I don't have the time for a lot of the contest hoops that bloggers like to set up. Hell, I understand if you didn't even read this far. But some of you like the challenge, so I thought this would be fun. That's why I have two groups. And I sympathize with the "no time" people, so that's why there's Group 1.
I am going put up a link to the contest on the sidebar, so people can enter over the next few days. The deadline to enter this contest is 11 p.m. EST Wednesday.
Finally, why am I doing this?
Well, I almost forgot until halfway through writing this, but I have just passed 200,000 unique visits and 300,000 page views.
I just wanted to say: "Much obliged."
Hope you still like relics.