As I've mentioned recently, I have been spending a lot of time lately working on my Bowman collection -- getting complete lists of cards for all the parallels and inserts, ruling out ever trying to collect a complete team set of anything serial numbered under 100 along the way, and, now, getting the parallels and inserts into binders.
Organization is fun. It's not as fun as going to a show and looking for cards I need, but how am I supposed to know what cards I need to look for if I'm not organized?
With today being Labor Day in the United States (and Labour Day in Canada, thanks to that extraneous, unpronounced "u" y'all insist on throwing randomly into certain words), it seems fitting that today I'd be talking about organization and commons. After all, Labor Day is a holiday that the labor unions in the 1880s fought for and which was made an official national holiday in the United States in the wake of the deadly Pullman Strike in 1894 by President Grover Cleveland.
My laboring today will be continued Bowman organization. This post, though, is to show off some Bowman purchases from Just Commons.
As many of you know, Just Commons is a good cheap way to knock a lot of cards off your want lists at a cheap price. This is especially true if you have needs from the 1990s or the 2000s, since all the hype or expectation for any rookies that might have had a chance to do anything has long since worn off -- we all now know that Erubiel Durazo is not going to be a star of any kind, for example, nor is J.M. Gold. So, those cards are priced accordingly, and if you spend $15 you get free shipping.
The downside to Just Commons is also well known. Their online inventory is often inaccurate, leading to the unfortunate emails that tell you that they are out of one or two or three cards. As I found out from this most recent shipment, another issue are just simple mistakes -- whether it is missorted cards or not sending two cards when two are requested.
The poster boy for this missorting escapade?
My pal Erubiel Durazo. You see, Durazo's 1999 Bowman card number is 380. I ordered two of card 360, Geoff Jenkins, so I'd have one for my player collection and one for my team collection. So now, I still need one of the Jenkins cards, and I have an Erubiel Durazo card that I'll probably never be able to rid myself of from my collection.
Another missorting mistake comes with those more subtle parallels from the early 2000s. Back then, Bowman/Topps thought it was enough differentiation between base card and parallel to make the card slightly thicker and to have the facsimile signature and the Bowman logo on the card foiled in gold instead of silver. While I have been able to pick up on that difference quite easily, not everyone can.
Thus, at the price of a regular common, I am now the owner of the 2001 Bowman Gold parallels for Geoff Jenkins, Jeromy Burnitz, and Nick Neugebauer. Apparently, that year's parallels were not differentiated enough, so Topps/Bowman changed the parallels in 2002 to be thicker card stock -- more easily identified. Thus, I got the parallels I wanted and the base cards as well from 2002:
I'm not sure if it says more about the Brewers' minor league system in 2001 or about Bowman that Matt Parker got a card. You see, Parker was not a highly regarded arm. He came over from the St. Louis Cardinals at some point during 2000. He was a 31st round pick the previous year out of Mercer University in Macon, Georgia. Parker's best minor league season was 2001 when, at High Desert, he had a 13-6 record with a 4.30 ERA on a team that had a 5.27 ERA.
My guess is that it's a little bit of both.
As an aside, there has been an interesting drama playing out this year in Adelanto, California -- a/k/a High Desert -- as that San Bernardino County city decided it no longer wanted to give the baseball team a sweetheart $1 a year deal on its stadium lease. The City declared that its financial situation is so dire that it can't support paying the utilities and upkeep for the stadium. This is a city that willingly took on building a number of prisons and immigrant detention centers -- projects that almost always are the subject of resident protests to keep them out -- and also turned to medical marijuana cultivation.
Legally, the city is arguing that the rent is an illegal gratuity. Nearly every state has constitutional provisions precluding local governments from giving gifts of public money to individuals or corporations. Usually, every deal like this one is justified against taxpayer challenges by the city pointing to increased economic revenue brought in by concessions, game attendees, and the like.
Eventually, as this season has turned out, the High Desert Mavericks will be no more after this season. The Mavericks next year will join the Bakersfield Blaze in folding from the California League and having the teams effectively moved to the Carolina League.
Okay, back to baseball cards.
Now, if Bowman or Topps wanted to resurrect this card design, I'd welcome it in a heartbeat. 1954 and 1955 Bowman (the TV set) designs were two of the best designs in card history. I like this 1954 design thanks to its simplicity. It can showcase photography like these two cards -- giving us nice posed shots to see what the player really looks like -- without the faux aging look that Topps Heritage has gone to in the past several years.
Finally, it wasn't all Bowman that I ordered from Just Commons:
Don't be deceived -- these are much better than just being 1980 Topps cards, because they actually are 1980 O-Pee-Chee cards. Being in the South, I don't find OPC enough for my tastes, so I have to resort to buying them from Just Commons.
Now if they'd just stock up on 1990 Fleer Canadian. And hopefully, they wouldn't see me all Mariners from that set.