Thursday, December 12, 2013

12 Days of Christmas Cards: Prologue

It seems just about every collector who's been at it for a while has a quirky "mini-collection" or two (often many). Just something fun to go after other than the favorite team(s), favorite player(s), favorite set(s). It's usually a card trait that means something to you, but doesn't especially make the card more desirable to the general collecting public.

Something like... cards featuring double plays being turned.. or plays at the plate.. night games.. action cards with only dirt (no grass) in the picture (a.k.a. "Tatooine" cards).. cards with photos of players signing autographs.. etc.

Sometimes it's not about the pictures, but rather collecting cards of players who share your birthday.. or are the same religious denomination as you.. guys with funny names.. stuff like that. You could also collect minis.. then you have a mini mini-collection!

My quirky collecting detours include cards of guys who share my first name (Greatest Gavins) and guys from my hometown (East County San Diego).

Another mini-collection I've started this year is Christmas Cards. I'm not talking about greeting cards.. or the early 90s Pro Set football cards featuring Santa or something like that. The Christmas Cards I'm talking about are cards that are serial numbered 12/25. Any trading card that's factory-marked or hand-numbered as the 12th card in a limited run of 25 printings of that particular card.

Dumb? Sure, but it's fun. These are essentially "1/1" cards, so by that definition they are very rare. But at the same time, there are tons of different Christmas Cards out there to chase. As low-run serial numbered cards, they can sometimes be costly, with many of them being certified autographs and/or relics. Could be a top-tier legend.. Could be a fringe prospect who flamed out in A ball.. Could even be a non-baseball card. Any serial #'d 12/25 trading card. Part of the fun of collecting Christmas Cards is there's such a wide variety of stuff that can fit into this niche.

So anyways, I got the idea for the blog to count down 12 Days of Christmas Cards as a play on the "Twelve Days of Christmas". I made a list of my favorites from my collection and I'll be posting them, one per day, culminating with my #1 favorite Christmas Card on December 25th (If you want to get historically accurate, the 12 Days of Christmas technically start on the 25th, but that's not as fun since everyone's sick of Christmas by 12:01 a.m. on the 26th, if not earlier, thanks to it being jammed down our throats all autumn by corporations who want our money).

The countdown starts December 14th, so rejoice! These will be fun posts, I hope, so even if this particular serial number doesn't interest you, the posts will still be worth a read. There will be yuletide puns and singalongs! A festive holiday party in blog form!

Of course I'll be getting into the spirit of giving and you will be visited by three Contests over the course of the event: the Contest of Christmas Past, the Contest of Christmas Present, and the Contest of Christmas Future. They don't really have anything to do with tense, but I wanted to be cute about having 3 contests. Truth be told, I haven't really decided on the contests yet, so we'll see how it shakes out.

Anyways, to warm things up, here are the Christmas Cards I acquired this year that did not make the cut for the top 12.

Dwight Smith, Jr 2011 Playoff Prime Cuts #'d 12/25

Before scoring this card, I didn't know Dwight Smith's kid was a ballplayer. After a rough pro debut year in 2012, Smith, Jr rebounded with a solid '13 season (.284 and 25 stolen bases in A ball). This card isn't great, though. It's a sticker auto, obviously, and Junior seems to have had trouble centering his signature (a big "D" with a little squiggle under it), with a good chunk of it falling below the bottom of the sticker. Come on, kid, shape up!

Austin Aune 2012 Leaf Metal Blue Prismatic Parallel #'d 12/25

Austin Aune is a Yankees prospect, though you couldn't tell from this card. He's definitely not tearing up the minors so far, but might make the bigs someday if he tries really, really hard. At least this is an on-card auto, not a sticker, plus Aune's got the nicest looking signature of all the cards in this post.

Jake Smolinski 2009 Tri Star Projections #'d 12/25

Another fringe prospect. At first glance, this might look like an on-card auto, but take a closer look and you can see the sticker outline. Lame. Smolinski hasn't really impressed all that much in the minors, and spent most of '13 with Miami's AAA club, hitting .258 with 9 HR.

Jordan Todman 2011 Panini Prime #'d 12/25

Yep, our Christmas Card list won't be limited to only baseball. As a Chargers fan, I really like the look of this card. That's easily the most impressive scrap of uniform on a card that I currently own. It even identifies specifically when it was worn on the back (not a game, but rather 5/21/11 NFL Players Rookie Premiere, whatever that is). What kept this Christmas Card off the top 12 is that Todman hasn't done much in the league. He was only with San Diego for a year, spending most of his time on the practice squad. He played for the Vikings practice squad for a while, and now he's starting to get a little real playing time with the Jaguars, probably the worst team in the NFL this year. His signature looks like an ampersand ("&") with a tiny "1" mixed in near the end.

Brandon Lloyd 2011 Panini Prime Signatures #'d 12/25

Another football card that missed making the Top 12 cut. It's the only card in this intro post that features the serial number on the front, proudly proclaiming its Christmas Card status. Lloyd has had some success in the NFL-- specifically a nice 2010 season, when he led the league in receiving yards-- but seems to be done after being released by the Patriots back in March. He's got a bubbly mess of a signature.. it's cute.

Ok, so there are my less-impressive Christmas Cards. Check back starting 12/14 as we get into the good ones!


  1. Awesome idea for a "mini collection"! Looking forward to seeing the others that you have already and good luck expanding your collection!