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The Beauty That is 1955 Bowman

A pair of plain white envelopes (PWE) showed up in my mailbox this week. Both of them come from awesome guys in the hobby that I met through Twitter. Often I comment on interviews that the best part of the One Million Cubs Project is meeting other collectors in the hobby. Joe and Justin are two of the best.

Joe is someone I have interacted with frequently on Twitter. He lives in Monona, Wisconsin, which is maybe 20 minutes from where I live, yet we have never met in person. That will change once the shelter in place is lifted and we can share our Cubs stories over a couple craft beers.

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One of my favorite parts of the hobby is sitting down in front of the TV in my basement and sorting boxes. The best boxes are the ones buried in my card room that are unmarked and discovering what is inside.

Sometime last week was such a night, and I uncovered some non-sports cards. Here’s the back story on many of these cards in my collection. Whenever traveling, I check that area’s Craigslist postings. A few years ago while working the Illinois high school softball state finals in Peoria, someone was selling about 20,000 non sports cards dating to the early 1980’s, and also had some Peoria Chiefs bobbleheads.

The D.J. LeMahieu bobblehead sucked me in, and then the non-sports cards intrigued me. As I zoomed in on the pictures I saw some Star Wars cards and other 1980’s sets. The price was right. I can’t remember what I paid for the whole lot, but the 20,000 non-sports cards and the LeMahieu bobblehead did not run me more than $50 or $60.

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One such lot of cards inside the lot were Back to the Future II cards. Recently I saw one of those memes where you pick three of nine items. This particular meme was 1980’s movies. All the classics, for the most part. Back to the Future would be my number one choice of 80’s movies followed closely by the Goonies. After that, it’s like a 20-way tie among a bunch of movies.

When I pull cards during these sorting excursions to post on Twitter, I have learned to set them aside. It seems about 75% of the time no matter what card I post on Twitter, someone is interested in trading for it. At first, I would throw them back in a box because who really wants a 1996 Pinnacle Bob Hamelin baseball card? More than you know, actually. It only took a couple times throwing cards back into a box into my massive unorganized closet that I realized it’s in my best interest to put them in a stack for later use.

Marty McFly was one such card. Each time I throw a random card on Twitter…like Marty McFly…I consider throwing it back in a box. But I’ve even had someone reach out to me regarding a 1977 Topps Close Encounters of the Third Kind with a stick of gum stuck to the card. It was among my strangest baseball card trades in the One Million Cubs Project.

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Joe reached out and offered a swap for that McFly card. Fortunately, it was set aside so we did a card-for-card PWE trade. McFly for Dawson.

About 10 years ago my buddy Dave and I would set up at a card show in Springfield, Illinois. At some point I had acquired a bunch of beat up 1950’s baseball cards, which maybe 100 or 200 were 1955 Bowman. I love the old console TV borders on the ’55 Bowman, and it seems it’s one of those love ’em or hate ’em designs in the hobby. I was selling these poor grade ’55 Bowman’s for $1 or $2 each depending on player.

Another regular vendor at this show wore an apron that said, “Mr. Fair to Good.” It’s a play on “Mr. Mint” in the hobby and it rang true. He loved old beat up baseball cards, and he would spend a lot of time at my table admiring all of those 1955 Bowman cards. He would drop a few dollars on a couple cards, go make a couple sales, and return later in the show to buy some more.

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Last year was my first trip to The National held in Rosemont, Illinois. I met so many fellow collectors that I have engaged with on social media and finally got to meet in person. I also met collectors for the first time. Justin was at a table and saw my sign. He commented we follow each other on Twitter, and offered to add to my Cubs baseball card collection.

We walked over to a table with some beat up beauties from the 1950’s and 1960’s. Among cards we shared stories over were the 1963 Topps Don Landrum that actually features a picture of Ron Santo, a 1961 Topps Sammy Taylor, and the 1961 Topps Batter Bafflers of Cubs pitchers Glen Hobbie and Don Cardwell. Justin also mentioned he was the MVP of Jose Cardenal’s Baseball Camp in 1984. He recently unearthed a couple photos from that camp and shared with me.

We share a love for that wonderful 1955 Bowman design, and he has taken up building the set. One such duplicate from that set was the Bob Talbot, which Bob and I share the same initials, B.T. Even better: Bob was born on June 6, 1928. I was born on June 6, 1982.

Experiences like these are what makes the One Million Cubs Project. Cards are just a bonus. It’s the relationship building through baseball cards that really makes this such a wonderful undertaking.

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