Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A Little Reflection, Featuring '97 Stadium Club

I've been trying my hand at this blogging thing since last June.  Over that time, I've been able to make a great many acquaintances with fellow bloggers all over the country.  To say it's been a fun and rewarding experience would be an understatement.

Sometimes I feel like I'm taking the experience for granted.  And I'm not even referring to the trading aspect of the sports card blogosphere -- which is quite amazing, I might add.

No, I'm referring to the idea of random people -- strangers from many miles away -- clicking on a link to my blog and actually reading my words.  Sharing in my experiences as a collector and a fan of baseball.  Taking the time to reach out to me via the comment box or an email.  The whole thing kinda leaves me in awe.  Even after eight months of blogging.

It's one thing for other bloggers to visit my site.  When I started my blog I can freely admit that I wrote to a great many of them basically begging them to notice me or add me to their blog rolls.  So perhaps I picked up a few pity followers along the way.  Hey, beggars can't be choosers, right?

But even more amazing are the unsolicited visitors who don't operate a blog of their own.  Them I didn't have to beg or plead with for attention.  Which is pretty cool to think about.

Now, I'm certainly not implying that I have hoards of readers who are bombarding my inbox.  Far from it.  But for someone like myself who doesn't expect to be noticed necessarily, even one 'reader' taking the time to write me is a huge occasion.

About two weeks ago, a fellow collector named Kyle emailed me in regards to a trade possibility.  But, not just any sort of trade.  He happened to hit on two sets that heighten my senses big time.  One, I've talked on quite frequently, is 2011 Heritage.

The other is 1997 Stadium Club.

The 1997 Stadium Club, otherwise known to me as the finest of all the TSC issues.  I've had a fascination with this set since I received a couple packs around the time of my 17th birthday.  And that was really my only exposure to these cards, since the packs were way too expensive for my teenage budget.  After all, I had to use what little dough I had to go bowling with my buddies or buy R.E.M. albums.

Over the years I held onto the precious few '97 Stadium Club cards I had and wondered what it might be like to have a whole set of these beauties.  What cards of a particular star player might look like.  What the cards would look like in proper numeric sequence, displayed in a crystal clear binder pages.

Mostly pipe dreams, though.  It would be too costly and too difficult to piece together this set.  Plus I didn't know how or where to begin.

Until a few months ago when I bought a huge lot of '97 TSC cards off eBay.  Of course, the lot was basically stripped of all the major stars, but whatever.  I put a huge dent in the 390+ card set.  I'd let COMC or Sportlots fill in the gaps somewhere down the road.

And just for giggles, I listed my set needs on the ol' blog under the "Wanted" tab.  You know, just in case.  I never realistically expected anyone to email me that they had 1997 Stadium Club cards to contribute towards my goal.

Well, the internet is an amazing tool, is it not?  Fortune truly smiled on me when Kyle stumbled upon my blog and explored my want lists.  He had 40+ cards from my TSC list and was willing to trade them in my direction. Lots of star players and many of my favorites.

I can't describe to you how happy I was to receive these cards a couple days ago.  I emailed Kyle as much, informing him that I was just about the happiest collector on the planet.

Does it get any better than this?  Now, you can quibble that the name plate obscures a good portion of the action in this photo, as well as the first base bag.  But, you can't possibly fit any more bells and whistles into a baseball card than we see here.  Balls in mid flight, helmets flying off, low-class Phillies fans sitting on their hands in the background.


Mark Grace cards are definitely a good thing.  But, Mark Grace cards getting photo bombed by the zany Turk Wendell are a GREAT thing.  Executing a spring training play never looked as good as it does here.

And, hard as it may be for a Yankee-hater to admit, I consider the following to be one of the truly iconic cards in the history of Topps Stadium Club.

Photography from latter day Topps flagship owes a lot to the great TSC sets of the past.  I see Wade Boggs in the background, as well as Mel Stottlemyre.  And a very youthful Derek Jeter, of course, sporting a totally '90s fade on his dome.  This is a tremendous card of a future Hall of Famer early in his career.

I've still got a little ways to go before I can close the book on my 1997 TSC checklist, but this was a humongous help to say the least.

Now, the Stadium Club cards are only half the equation of this trade package.  As I noted earlier, 2011 Heritage is also part of this party.  And that's usually not back page news.  As you know by now, I have a hearty obsession with this product.

But, when it comes to a set as extraordinary as '97 TSC, everything else seems to take a backseat.

That doesn't mean I'm gonna neglect the great cards that are now a part of my Heritage collection.  Wouldn't dream of it!

Here's a nice sampling of the goods, beginning with a pair of big-time hurlers:

Seeing the Spring Training complexes in the background really gets my blood pumping.  Baseball is right around the corner!

A pretty neat dugout shot of Braden and Cahill here.  Apparently the pride of the Oakland Athletics.

Thanks to Kyle's assistance, I'm getting very close to completing the '11 base set.  He even threw in a short print to provide aid on that particular front.

An absolutely fantastic trade from top to bottom.  Lots of great cards from two of my favorite baseball card sets. I'm a lucky collector, for sure!

At the end of the day, though, no matter how much I love all the cards I receive (and I do love them), having people out there take the time to read my ramblings is the coolest thing of all.



  1. I have long wanted to find a '97 Stadium Club-exclusive dime box. The set contains some of the greatest photography I've seen in this hobby, yet I only own a few cards from it.

    That Grace "photobomb" is one of the few I have, though.

    Which kind of gives me inspiration for a future post...

  2. '97 TSC is pretty awesome. After checking out COMC, I realize that I only have the Steve Finley card (which isn't spectacular, but one of my favorite Finley's, and a holdover from my collection as a kid) and a pair of Ken Caminiti inserts that I got from you.

    The Henderson and Jeter cards are awesome. Jeter looks like a KID there!

    Couldn't agree more with the last line you wrote there.

  3. I also picked up a pack in the 90's and have loved the set since. I actually picked up 2 cards in a trade a few weeks ago. I just never envisioned trying to complete it so good luck!

    Great bloggers like you keep readers like me coming back for more. I'm sure there are a good number of us out there reading (there's even another Reader Steve)! I know it's one of my flaws that I don't comment enough and readers don't do it too often, but we're out there, loyally reading and waiting to see what the next post is about.

  4. Very happy I could help you out with such an obscure set. And the return to me was just as welcomed. Thanks for a great trade. In case you're interested, I started my own blog as well.