Most years (or the couple of years that I’ve actually done this) there is a clear cut winner. Due to either budget constraints or lack of luck I don’t usually pull any truly awesome cards. If my collecting was a hockey player it would be a third-line center. Hard-working, defensive-minded and able to chip in the occasional goal. Nothing spectacular or flashy, just solid. I would be Nate Thompson.
However, 2013 was a bit different. Things broke my way and shots that normally get saved went in. I had great linemates that fed me the puck (aka new cards) and set me up for success. It was, to drag this analogy out to the end, a 20-goal season for this collector. I was able to buy a few boxes, finish some sets and through eBay and some good ol’ fashioned wheeling-and-dealing pick up a few new cards for my every evolving personal collection.
Since it was such a good year for collecting there are actually four cards under consideration for the prestigious honor of being card of the year. That’s right four pieces of cardboard that on any given year I would be jealous if someone else posted about acquiring. After careful consideration (10 minutes before I started typing this post) I’ve come up with a winner. So I present to you, in order, my top four cards of 2013.
4. 2012 Golden Greats Joe DiMaggio Game Used Relic #’d 10/10
Yup, the Yankee Clipper comes in 4th. It’s a great card of a Hall of Famer. There are only 10 in existence. The piece of wood from the bat is over 50 years old. It was used by the man (well one of the men) that got it on with Marilyn Monroe! Surely it should be ranked higher! For many people I‘m sure it would be. However, in the end, it is a card of a Yankee. That alone precludes it from being number one.
3. Anders Lindback 2013 Trilo3ySignature Pucks
That’s right, a signature for a backup goalie ended up higher on the list than one of the best hitters of all time. What can I say? It’s my list and I’ll do what I want. I really, really like this card. The layout, the signature on the piece of rubber, the fact that I poined up way more than I normally do for a pack and pulled a hit from my favorite team. In most years this would probably be a winner. Just not this year.
2. 1982 Topps Cal Ripken, Jr. Rookie
Yup, a base card from an early 80s that can be had on the internet for the price of a blaster made the top two. Of course, for Orioles’ fans this isn’t just some random rookie card. It is THE ROOKIE CARD to own. I would venture that Ripken is the most popular Oriole of all time (just slightly ahead of Rocky Coppinger) and his card came out in a time when collecting was both popular and affordable. While it might not be pulling in the triple digits it once did, the Ripken rookie is still a cornerstone for any Baltimore collector. I still can’t believe it took me more than 30 years to actually have one of my own.
We pause a moment to mention another card. When I started thinking about this post (two weeks ago) there was another card that I was going to put at number one. A card I pulled out of a box that blew my mind. A box that I swore I bought in 2013, yet upon further review I actually bought in the fall of 2012. So, I am retroactively naming the below card as The Hopeful Chase Card of 2012!
Yet another honor for the Great One. Congrats Mr. Gretzky. Now onto the big reveal for 2013.
1. 2012 Topps Museum Collection Archival Autographs Nolan Ryan #’d 6/25
This is just an exquisite card. The blue ink on the white background is absolutely perfect. Coupled with the fact that it uses a photo from his days with the Mets instead of the more common Astros/Rangers makes it my favorite card of the year (even if he was part of the 1969 Mets team that upset the O’s in the World Series). When I hit the Powerball and open up a card shop with Saint Leo Mike this is a card I would be proud to have in a display case.
Add to it that it came to me as part of the same redemption that the DiMaggio card was part of makes it even more awesome because, from a certain point of view, it could be considered a throw-in. Especially since, on more than one occaison, I forgot that I was waiting for a redemption.
As I grow older the opportunities for cards to provide a jaw-dropping experience become fewer and fewer. Be it because I have become more jaded, or because I just see more cards it’s a feeling that just doesn’t happen that often. Some days the sorting, cataloging, mailing out, tracking and storing of collected cards drains the pure joy of seeing a great card. However, when this card popped out of the padded mailer from Topps, the heroin-rush high of collecting came flooding back. Once the Gretzky card was deemed ineligible (another jaw-dropper) it was easy to name the Ryan autograph as the Card of the Year.
All of the cards on the list (with the exception of the Lindback, sorry Anders) I would be proud to place in a display case. That’s really one of the criteria I take into consideration when I choose the card of the year, along with if I really, really like the card. Therefore they are all getting the added bonus of being put in the fireproof safe along with our important life documents and collection of foreign money (which now includes Brazilian Reals!)
That wraps up 2013. Will 2014 continue my run of good luck or will it be a dry year? Stick around to find out.