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Old School Hits: 2001 SPx Winning Materials Update Trios

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Inserted into every box of 2001 UD Rookie Update was an SPx Winning Materials Update card. While the regular Winning Materials set featured bat-jersey, base-ball, and base-base combinations, the update set had dual and triple jersey swatches, with each swatch belonging to a different player. Both update variations were accompanied by a gold parallel limited to 25 copies. The combinations of players on the update cards featured teammates (as is the case with this card) or players of the same position (Clemens/Hudson/Nomo for example). I acquired this card the ‘Bay a few years back. Sorry Eric, but this is one Pettitte I can’t let go.

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A Whole Lotta Mail!

When I opened my P.O. Box this morning, I found a slip inside stating that I had “too much mail to fit in my box.” Honestly, I was only expecting one package and that was for some supplies I just ordered. Here’s what I had to pick up from the service counter:

The first card came from Youtube user paulnj39. For whatever reason, I still partake in the occasional group break despite having been in a bit of a “slump.” Paul recently held a break for a case of 2007 Ultimate Collection and a box of 2008 Prime Cuts IV. I drew the Cleveland Indians with my lone spot and was completely shut out of the Ultimate case (Note to self: Stop doing these). I was able to get a little something from the Prime Cuts box thankfully.

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It’s a parallel of Indians prospect Cord Phelps, numbered 5/5 on the back.

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If any Tribe fans out there would like to make a deal, let me know. I’m personally sick of seeing the last name “Phelps” but that’s just me.

The following group of cards were sent to me from two of my favorite bloggers, Sooz of A Cardboard Problem and the one and only Night Owl. Sooz sent me the only Paul O’Neill card in today’s bunch, a 1998 Topps Tek pattern #57. For those that don’t remember this set, there were 90 players in the Tek set, all of which had 90 variations (patterns) each! Yes, that’s an 8,100 card set! Someone out there has finished it though and I know for a fact that he reads this blog (that’s a shout out to you Carl). Anyway, thanks a lot Sooz! These cards have been a bit difficult for me to find so this is much appreciated.

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As for Night Owl, he sent me a variety of Yankee cards ranging from 1974-2009. Included in this package were a 1974 Sam McDowell, several stickers from the early ’80s, YSL cards, a Hideki Matsui Topps Chrome X-Fractor, and several other cards from sets such as ’09 Upper Deck, and last year’s Topps Heritage and Stadium Club. I had twice sent Greg a variety of Dodger cards, first from a mini-contest I had last month and then from the group break, but I had no idea he would send this much in return. Thanks a lot Greg! If anyone out there (Marie? Peter? Anyone else?) is interested, these are the numbers of the YSL cards that will be available for trade:

1366, 1794, 1819, 3107, 3475, 4870, 6723

Last, but certainly not least, we have my friend Ravi, a huge Paul O’Neill collector himself who often hooks me up with doubles. He did just that a couple days ago, sending me a package of 15 new Paulie cards for the collection. Here’s a scan of some of the better ones:

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Included in this lot were some oddballs and unlisted cards that are new to me. There were quite a few parallels from Pacific products, Stadium Club, Bowman Chome, and Topps. The Gallery card in the scan is actually a Gallery Proof parallel numbered out of 125. Thanks a ton Ravi! Thanks again to everyone who sent me cards. My Paul O’Neill collection now has more than 650 cards and is still growing!

Last Week’s Mail

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Last week, I had some of my best maildays in quite a while. When the boxes for the group break weren’t in my P.O. Box, these cards were. I was able to add about a dozen or so cards to my personal collection. Above are a few of the highlights (from right to left):

1995 Score Platinum Team
2005 Topps All-Time Fan Favorites Relics Rainbow (12/25)
1998 Donruss Signature Century Marks Autograph (0055)

A few quick notes: the Fan Favortes relic looks really strange in the scan. The “gray” bars at the top and bottom of the card are actually a dark red color. The card also has a refractor-like finish and is numbered to just 25. The Century Marks card has a print run of 100 and was one of my most wanted cards. Despite the fact that 100 copies are the quivalent of say 1,000 copies by today’s standards, these cards still go for quite a bit of scratch. A Tony Gwynn recently ended for $85. There are several others in eBay stores with price tags of $25/ea. per common player. I paid $36 for my Paul O’Neill card, which was a little more than my ideal price. Given the fact that these cards rarely pop up (and he was a Yankee during their last “dynasty”)  though, it certainly could’ve been worse.

The final card came from Dave of Fielder’s Choice. I already posted about this card on my other blog here, but I figured I’d post it here also (sorry for the weird cropping) because it features my favorite player and because Artifacts hockey isn’t nearly as much of an eyesore that Artifacts baseball is. I’ll save that rant for another time though.

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Blog Bat Around: What Centers My Yankee Universe?

Answer: A 13-year-old newspaper and an Atlanta Brave.

Those of you who have read my About Me page know the story of how I fell in love with the game thanks to my father, a lifelong Yankee fan. What you didn’t know was that he was also responsible for kickstarting my collection with cards that I wouldn’t trade for a Martin Brodeur autographed 1/1.

My collection started in 1993 with various packs obtained from the local grocery store. I didn’t have anything great, but as long as I had my Yankee cards, I was happy. My father eventually took notice of my interest in cards and decided to give my collection a little star power. He was a former collector himself, having had many cards of Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, and so on. Unfortunately, my grandmother (like many other mothers out there) ruefully threw her son’s cards out long ago. Ah, what could’ve been…

My father didn’t want my collection to suffer the same fate so he took me to meet up with a friend from work one rainy day in 1994. The man I met that day had a rather large selection of cards, which ranged from mid-1970’s to 1993 stuff. I looked through stacks and stacks of cards, picking out Yankees and star players such as Gwynn, Ripken, Thomas, etc. All of a sudden, I uncovered a gem. Surrounded by a bunch of craptastic, overproduced ’91 Fleer and Donruss cards was this baby:

Hammerin' Hank!!

Hammerin’ Hank!!

In all its brown and orange goodness, a 1975 Topps Hank Aaron Highlight card #1! Yes, somehow this card was mixed in with cards from those subpar sets. My eyes lit up the second I saw this card and it took me precisely 0.8 seconds to remove the card from the stack and into my “wanted” pile. Later on, when my dad’s friend looked through that very pile, he just smiled and told me I had good taste when he saw the Aaron. My father nodded in agreement. After I had finished looking through all the stacks, the man pulled out a few more vintage cards and also sold them to my father. They were 1977 Topps cards of Mike Schmidt, Robin Yount, and Pete Rose. A (badly miscut, but who cares?) 1979 Topps card of Nolan Ryan accompanied the three. I remember going home that day as the happiest kid in town. All the cards were great, especially the vintage, but there was something about that Aaron card that wouldn’t let me take my eyes off of it. When I look at this card right now, I still think as highly of it as I did when I first held it as a 9-year-old kid.

Roughly a year after that wonderful afternoon, my father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, which led to the removal of his gall bladder and part of his pancreas. Obviously, I was crushed by these events. In order to help cope with the illness, my father and I joined a support group for kids/adults that were going through the same scenario that we were. We met up once a week for a couple hours, talking and doing various activities in order to relieve some stress. One such activity required us to bring in an item that symbolized our relationship and discuss why it did so.

I brought in the Hank Aaron card.

The other children in the group, some of whom were into sports, were amazed by it. Heck, even one of the counselors was amazed by it. This card symbolized what brought us close together: our love of baseball and our love of collecting.

That brings me to the second “centerpiece” of my collection, the 13-year-old newspaper. By mid-1995, my father was feeling the best he had since before the operation, a very encouraging sign. We decided to celebrate by going to our first MLB game together on the last day of August. The Yankees were hosting the then-California Angels. At the time, the Angels were in the middle of a collapse that only the 2007-08 Mets could pull off and the Yanks were battling for a playoff spot. What happened that night was something I’ll never forget as long as I live.

Like I’ve stated before, Paul O’Neill had been my favorite player ever since I first became a baseball fan. He was also my father’s favorite player and was actually traded to the Yankees on my father’s 46th birthday! Anyway, Paul did something that night that he had never done before, nor would he ever do again. He smacked not one, not two, but THREE home runs and drove in EIGHT in an 11-6 Yankees victory. The next day, the NY Daily News backpage said “3 Cheers!” and featured Paul swatting one out of the park. It was brought to my attention by a friend,  Ravi (who also collects O’Neill) that a man on eBay was actually selling old newspapers and one of them happened to be this issue of the Daily News! Yes, I bought a freakin’ newspaper on eBay! Laugh if you want, but this was exactly the piece that was missing from my O’Neill collection. Because I don’t have a working camera right now, I somehow threw the paper up on my scanner. Here’s what it looks like:

9/1/95

NY Daily News: 9/1/95

An online archive of this story can be found here. When you think about it, you just can’t make this kind of stuff up. My father introduces me to baseball. I become enamored with the game. For some odd reason(s), we don’t go to a live game until two years after I first became a fan, and we see our favorite player (of all people!) do something he’s only done once in his career. It’s scary. You’d think it was like he knew we were there and wanted to do something huge in front of us. I wonder what Mr. O’Neill would say if he heard this story. He’d probably ask why I didn’t go to more games! So, there you have it folks: one card, one newspaper, countless memories. These are things that center my “Yankee Universe.”

Old School Hits: 2000 UD HoloGrFX A Piece of the Series

Actual World Series game-used!

Actual World Series game-used!

Normally, I’m not much of a fan of game-used cards that feature non-personal items on them such as balls, bases, and DIRT, but this particular set is a very special one. A Piece of the Series is a 12-card set found in 2000 UD HoloGrFX. While the product itself is nothing noteworthy at all, this set is (in my opinion) legendary. These cards were seeded only 1 in every 431 packs on average and feature some of the biggest stars of the New York Yankees and Atlanta Braves, who met in the 1999 World Series.

The reason this set is so special is that the swatches are of actual game-used bases from that particular World Series. There are several World Series-themed game-used sets out there (for example: 2002 Stadium Club World Champions, 2001 UD Subway Series among others), but this is the only one (to my knowledge, anyway) that specifically states that the material on the card was actually used in a World Series. I didn’t know this before checking out my friend Ravi’s page, but John Rocker was slated to be a part of this set, but was pulled after all the idiotic comments he made at the time. Therefore, only 11 cards found their way into packs. If you’d like to see scans of the entire set, check out Ravi’s page here. He has finished this entire set!

As for myself, I only own the Paul O’Neill at the moment. I used to have the Chipper, but traded it away (sorry dayf if you’re reading this). It should be noted that there is also an autographed partial-parallel to this set. These are randomly inserted into packs and four of them come with a variation which is limited to the player’s jersey number. These four are: Paul O’Neill (21), Tino Martinez (24), Brian Jordan (33), and Tom Glavine (47). Additionally, Bernie Williams, Mariano Rivera (and of course John Rocker) do not have an autographed version.