A few days ago I decided to start a franken-set called The Ultimate Hockey Card Set. I'm sure you all know what the concept is, and as I hinted at I'm going to do one for baseball as well. So, while the rest of the world is checking their fantasy rosters and getting the latest injury updates leading up to today's NFL action, I'm looking through my thousands upon thousands of baseball cards trying to figure out which ones I like best. What can I say...
I feel like the sheer number of baseball cards out there is just so much greater than the number of hockey cards. I mean with hockey, before the year 1990 you pretty much had an O-Pee-Chee set that was just under 400 cards, and a Topps set that was less than half that size (with cards typically identical to O-Pee-Chee but on lower quality cardstock). With baseball though, you had 3 major companies doing sets of 600+ cards throughout the 80's, and even more appearing in the latter part of the decade. Even going back as far as the 1950s, Topps had sets of 500+ cards, plus sets from competitor Bowman in the first half of the decade. Anyway, my point is that in some cases I'm going to have a hell of a time selecting any one baseball card for this set.
For the first post, we'll start off with card #5. I found that I have some pretty nice card #5's in the collection. There's the Bo Jackson Fleer Provision card at the top of this post. I'm not going with that one, but it did seem appropriate as a leading image on this first NFL Sunday of the 2011 season. There were some other close runners-up, a great card from 2007 Upper Deck Masterpieces:
I loved Masterpieces baseball, it was a bummer to see it go after just two sets. As a Red Sox fan, this is pretty much perfection. This card is a perfect example of a historic moment captured on cardboard. Unfortunately for Carlton here, this card doesn't quite make the cut.
Some of the game's most successful players appear on #5 cards in my collection:
This '78 Topps Pete Rose Record Breaker is just one example. Even the all-time hit king couldn't cut it for card #5.
I have card #5 from perhaps my favorite baseball set of all time:
In fact, it was the last card I posted about from the set, just over a year ago (remember kids, don't play with dynamite). Even though he played the majority of his career for the Red Sox, Joe doesn't make the cut either.
My only relic card of The Wizard is a #5. Believe it or not I got this card for $1 on eBay, with no shipping charge. Quite a steal, but unfortunately for Ozzie here I'm passing on this one.
Both of the players that I collect have interesting #5 cards:
Most of the Will Clark #5's I have are junk wax era oddballs, like this disc that came with popcorn.
On the Nolan Ryan front, I considered a couple of cards, including this 1982 Topps highlight. 1982 was the year I was born, and that Astros jersey is pretty nice (in an awful kind of way). Believe it or not, I briefly considered this card:
Yes, this is a 1990 Topps card. I know most people hate this set, but it was one of the first I ever collected. The first 5 cards, all Nolan Ryan, have a lot of sentimental value to me.
This '75 Topps highlight card ended up runner up. A fine card indeed, I don't really have anything negative to say about it. Truth be told, none of these cards really had a chance. I have a #5 card that's so great, I knew I was going to choose it from the outset. In fact, it's the reason I chose #5 as the card to kick off this set with:
I picked this card up just over 6 months ago, for what I'd consider an absolute steal. It's easily one of my top 20 cards period. I think most people that have a copy of this card feel this way about it. What's not to love? The subject is one of the era's great stars, it's an awesome horizontal action photo, and the All-Star Rookie Cup makes an appearance. Add to that the challenge of finding one in good condition thanks to the 1971 Topps black borders, and this is indeed a classic.
As with the Ultimate Hockey Card set, you can track my progress here. I'll also have a link up in the sidebar. Comments/suggestions/arguments are welcome, after all that's half the fun!
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