Monday, October 1, 2007

My First 800-Count Box

Before moving on to the semis of the 1981 Topps Card Tournament, I've decided to sneak in a personal collecting treasure. Pictured above is my first 800-count storage box. This baby was purchased, I believe, at the now-defunct Old Mill Coin Shop. This place was nestled in among the shops of a northwest side of Milwaukee strip mall. And when I say "nestled," I mean that you could not see the Old Mill from the street. Still, there were a couple of uncut sheets of 1975 Topps baseball (!) hanging in the windows that were nearly faded beyond recognition. Even as a young boy, I knew sacrilege when I saw it.

Now, this box houses my complete, hand-collated set of 1987 Topps. Sure, there are plenty of bent corners in this set, as well as marked manager checklists, but I prefer to stick with the originals rather than upgrade. The box itself, though, has gone through several different tenants through its life. I estimate I was 10 or 11 years old when it was purchased, and the team name ornamentation reflects my then-state of mind. Let's review.

Top: The representatives of the top of this box must have been a product of obscene amounts of deliberation. First, there's the title, "Baseball Cards." The word "Baseball" has since faded. What was I thinking...? When you designate an 800-count box of cards, you spare no expense. Use a Sharpie.
Then there's the teams. I believe that the representative colors for each team reflect the color schemes chosen for the 1990 Fleer set. How sad.
Phillies: Red, simple, neat.
Giants: Brown all the way.
Pirates: These guys made the top because of the monster team Pittsburgh had around this time. Yellow...fierce yellow.
Tigers: Black, slanting upward, primed for success.
Padres: See Giants.
Astros: How I resisted adorning this orange name with a Kevin Bass-style moustache, I'll never know.
Mariners: Here's where I really start getting creative. I ping-ponged yellow and blue back and forth in my head, probably while watching "The Disney Afternoon." Then, genius hit me: Why not both!?!? It's like a twist soft serve cone. All parties are satisfied beyond belief.
Royals: I really outdid myself on this one. A blue name punctuated with a yellow crown. Buttons were surely popping once ink hit cardboard on this one.
A's: I hated the A's at this point in my life, evinced by the Ghostbusters-esque red circle and slash through the green name. Here's why: In 4th grade, I played in a softball league comprised of five grades' worth of Catholic school boys, as well as a sizable group of neighborhood kids. There were five teams in this league: Brewers, White Sox (my team), Red Sox, Pirates, and A's. The most successful team was the A's, mostly because of an abundance of older kids. Still, in the most amazing upset I have ever been a part of, we beat the A's in our second meeting, 16-9. For a few seconds, I knew what Jim Valvano must have felt like.
Brewers: I felt the need to make it clear which team was boss, with an emphatic blue Brewers Rule! (Although records show little evidence of the Brewers ruling anything since 1982.)

Front: A+ for effort here. I'm really starting to hit my stride.
Orioles, White Sox, Red Sox: Plain, solid, reliable, like a base set without inserts.
Expos: Taking a cue from Seattle, alternating red and blue letters. Will genius never cease?
Braves: Uh-oh, I may have been bordering on copyright infringement here. Please don't sue me Ted Turner! My tomahawk has no color, or binding twine!
Angels: Jesus Christ Almighty on a Bike! I'm getting my markers' worth here! Tri-color lettering with a golden halo. This is the box-buster, serial-numbered, game-used, triple signature pull of this 800-count box. Can I keep up the blistering pace?

I'm trying a little less hard here. Let's see who we've got.
Yankees: Black, classic. I showed remarkable restraint in not trying to create some sort of interlocking N and Y logo. Good choice.
Cubs: A big red C was all the effort I could muster for the team that I now view as the great, uninformed, inattentive, boorish, sloppy, suburban Satan of baseball (although at the time of markering, the Cubs posed little threat to me, personally, as the Brewers were not yet members of the National League). Cubs suck. Let's move on.
Reds: All CAPS. There had to be a reason for this, but I can't for the life of me identify it.
Rangers: Orange, boring.
Twins: Red, shaky, clearly showing fatigue. When will this end?

Dodgers: Blue motions lines and my best cursive. I clearly wasn't ready to give up yet.
Indians: Not too bad, either. Red, solid. To me this looks like a World Series matchup that will never happen, even on an infinite timeline.

Left: It's apparent that my 11-year-old self failed to give a shit any more.
Cardinals, Blue Jays, Mets: Did I write this with my right (non-dominant) hand? Does that say "Lardinals"? Is that a "d" or a zero, or even something from the Cyrillic alphabet? Did an infant write "Mets"? Are we done? Yes.

The 1981 Topps Showdown recommences soon!


dayf said...

Awesome tomahawk for the Braves!
Don't worry, Ted won't sue. He's two owners and a merger removed from owning the Braves. Even the once mighty TBS Channel 17 is now some atrocity called PeachTree TV.

Anonymous said...

That's awesome...I have a couple boxes at home like that. The first box was a hand me down from my uncle and is mostly covered with Fleer stickers. The first box that was wholly mine has a bunch of little cap illustrations that are a true thing of beauty.


--David said...

I am guessing by the writing on the sides (well, ends, really) that these were done while the box was in its correct position. Thus, you were probably laying on the floor as you wrote, correct? Well, if not, then I truly may be the only one that marked his boxes without standing them up (I was not a bright child)...